This guideline covers the care of women at increased risk of, or with symptoms and signs of, preterm labour (before 37 weeks), and women having a planned preterm birth. It aims to reduce the risks of preterm birth for the baby and describes treatments to prevent or delay early labour and birth.
In August 2019, we made new recommendations on prophylactic vaginal progesterone and prophylactic cervical cerclage for preterm labour and birth. For further details see update information.
This guideline includes new and updated recommendations on:
- prophylactic vaginal progesterone and prophylactic cervical cerclage
- magnesium sulfate for neuroprotection
- intrapartum antibiotics
It also includes recommendations on:
- diagnosing, and caring for women with, preterm prelabour rupture of membranes
- diagnosing preterm labour
- maternal corticosteoids
- fetal monitoring
- mode of birth and clamping the cord
- information and support
Who is it for?
Healthcare professionals who care for women at increased risk of or with symptoms and signs of preterm labour and women having a planned preterm birth
Commissioners and providers of maternity services
Women at increased risk of or with symptoms and signs of preterm labour and women having a planned preterm birth, and their families and carers
Guideline development process
The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals and practitioners are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or the people using their service. It is not mandatory to apply the recommendations, and the guideline does not override the responsibility to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual, in consultation with them and their families and carers or guardian.
All problems (adverse events) related to a medicine or medical device used for treatment or in a procedure should be reported to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency using the Yellow Card Scheme.
Local commissioners and providers of healthcare have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual professionals and people using services wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with complying with those duties.
Commissioners and providers have a responsibility to promote an environmentally sustainable health and care system and should assess and reduce the environmental impact of implementing NICE recommendations wherever possible.