Mechanisms of Full-Term and Preterm Labor: Factors Influencing Uterine Activity

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To review factors influencing uterine activity leading to delivery.

Data Sources:

A search was conducted on MEDLINE and CINAHL under the terms "preterm labor," "preterm delivery," and "physiology of labor and preterm labor."

Study Selection:

One-hundred fifty articles were reviewed, with selection based on physiologic concepts judged to be most relevant to nursing practice.

Data Synthesis:

In this review, factors initiating labor and preterm labor (PTL) are identified, along with areas for further research.


Despite research on what initiates labor, it is unknown how the various mechanisms are integrated. Nurses are in a position to conduct research to help further the understanding of the labor and PTL processes. Nurses can use their assessment skills to help identify women at risk for PTL and delivery.

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