If you have preterm labor, your doctor may do some tests to monitor you and your baby. These tests include:

  • Lab Tests—This may involve testing blood, urine, and cells from the cervix to look for infection.
  • Ultrasound —This test uses sound waves to create images of the inside of your body. In this case, the ultrasound is done to:
    • Examine the placenta
    • Check the baby’s age
    • Look for birth defects
    • See the position of the baby
    • Measure the cervix and the amount of amniotic fluid
  • Amniocentesis —This test involves removing a small amount of amniotic fluid to look for infection or to see if the baby’s lungs are mature.
  • Home Uterine Activity Monitoring—A monitor is strapped around your belly to measure and time your contractions. This intervention has been tested and found to have no evidence of benefit in terms of reducing preterm delivery or improving newborn outcomes.

Restricted Activity or Bed Rest

If you are in preterm labor, your doctor may recommend that you rest. The amount of rest you need will depend on your personal factors. You may be told to avoid certain stressful activities or to rest several times a day. Or, you may be advised to stay in bed at all times. Your may be able to sit up in bed, or may need to lie with your feet elevated and your head down. In some cases, you may need to stay in the hospital for bed rest. Lying on your left side enhances uterine relaxation and blood flow.

If you are on bed rest for a long period of time, you may lose muscle tone. After delivery, you’ll need to take steps to regain muscle strength; brisk walking is a good way to do this. Extended bed rest can also increase the risk for blood clots. Therefore, do not stay completely still. Stretching and other relaxed movements are helpful. Ask your doctor what types of movements are safe for you.

During bed rest, it is important to keep your mind occupied. Some women catch up on reading, paying bills, phone conversations, emails, sewing, or anything else that can be done while in bed. To limit walking, be sure to keep what you need close by.