Premature labor is also called preterm labor. It’s when your body starts getting ready for birth too early in your pregnancy. Labor is premature if it starts more than three weeks before your due date. Premature labor can lead to an early birth. But the good news is that doctors can do a lot to delay an early delivery. The longer your baby gets to grow inside you — right up to your due date — the less likely he or she is to have problems after birth. When a baby is born before the 37th week of pregnancy, it is called a preterm delivery. Some preterm births happen on their own — a mother goes into labor and her baby comes early. In other cases, problems with the pregnancy prompt doctors to deliver a baby earlier than planned. About three quarters of preterm births are spontaneous and about one quarter occur because of medical complications. Overall, about one in eight pregnant women deliver early.
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