Signs Of Early Labour Or A False Alarm?

14/08/2014 17:01 | Updated 20 May 2015

False alarm

My amazing son who I'll call J, is nearly three, and was diagnosed soon after birth with a relatively rare genetic condition. We don't yet know how it will affect him as he grows older, but so far he has battled an array of medical problems. One thing's for sure, our little family's life will never be 'normal'...

I was 28 weeks pregnant this week and my mind started to turn to how, at this stage in my pregnancy with J, everything went wrong.

When I felt some strange tightening sensations at the top of my bump, I first assumed they must be Braxton Hicks, but then, at eight pm, I decided to call a midwife.

She told me to come straight in. My husband was out, so I hastily arranged for a neighbour friend to babysit and got myself to hospital.

What happened next was all eerily familiar to me from the day before J was born premature at 32 weeks.

I was sent to the same assessment unit, and, just like last time, I waited for a long time. A midwife then ushered me to a room where she tested my urine and told me there was blood and protein in it - that plus my other symptoms (vomiting, frequent urination and feeling ill) indicated a possible urinary tract infection (UTI).

She hooked me up to a baby monitoring machine to check for contractions and proclaimed all seemed fine there.

Around midnight, a doctor, a junior one, finally came. She said the midwife was wrong and that the monitor showed I had had a few small contractions. I asked if they could be Braxton Hicks. She wasn't sure.

She said she was going to examine me and give me a fibronectin test and offered to explain. But as this was exactly what happened a few hours before J was born, it was already clear in my memory - this was a vaginal swab that could indicate if I was in premature labour, or likely to go into it.

The doctor apologised that the hospital only used metal speculums. Suffice it to say I am never allowing anyone near me with a metal speculum again.

The results would be back in seven minutes, she said. By this time, my husband had got my messages and was at home with J and waiting anxiously for them too.


Left alone in the examination room for an hour, I waited but no-one came.

Finally I went to find the midwife, who said my case was being discussed with a senior doctor. My heart sank; this didn't sound good.

Then the midwife came in and said: 'We're going to admit you. The test came back positive. You have to have steroids now.'

I burst into tears and said: 'I can't do this again. This can't be happening again.' The idea that I could be in premature labour again - and this time at 28 weeks - was too much for me to take in.

I was left on my own, sobbing, for 15 minutes.

Then the doctor came and confirmed the test had showed I was at risk of premature labour, but it was just a weak positive. She was reassuring.

At 1.30am I had a steroid injection and was taken to the bursting maternity ward and left in a bed next to two mothers with crying newborn babies. Those babies were up all night and so was I. It was exactly what had happened with J.

After a long wait to see a doctor the next day, it finally was decided that I was not in labour and that I just had a UTI, for which I needed antibiotics.

A scan confirmed that this was NOT the same situation as had happened with J and the sensations and vomiting disappeared. The baby was absolutely fine. After a second round of steroids I was allowed home.

It was a nasty scare, but thankfully one with a happy ending.

Click here to read previous columns from The Secret Diary of a Special Needs Mum.

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