Skip to content

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Preterm Labor - Medications

If your contractions are causing changes in your cervix, or if you have signs of infection or preterm premature rupture of membranes (pPROM), you may be given medicines to help delay delivery.

Delaying labor even for a short time can allow you to be:

  • Moved to a medical center that has a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
  • Given medicine to speed up lung development, which takes at least 48 hours to fully benefit the baby's lungs. Even 24 hours provides some benefit.

Medication choices

  • AntibioticsAntibiotics, to prevent or treat infection.
  • Antenatal corticosteroids, to help prepare the fetus's lungs for preterm birth.
  • Tocolytic medicinesTocolytic medicines, to stop preterm labor. Examples include:
    • Terbutaline.
    • Indomethacin.
    • Nifedipine.
    • Magnesium sulfate. If you're less than 32 weeks pregnant, your doctor or nurse-midwife may give you this medicine to help prevent some problems that affect your baby's brain, such as cerebral palsy.

Certain tocolytic medicines can be dangerous when a fetus is showing signs of distress or for women with certain health conditions (such as heart problems, severe preeclampsia, or poorly controlled diabetes or high blood pressure).

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    hand circling date on calendar
    Track your most fertile days.
    woman looking at ultrasound
    Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
     
    Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
    The signs to watch out for.
    pregnant woman in hospital
    Are there ways to do it naturally?
     
    slideshow fetal development
    Slideshow
    pregnancy first trimester warning signs
    Article
     
    What Causes Bipolar
    Video
    Woman trying on dress in store
    Slideshow
     
    pregnant woman
    Article
    Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
    Video
     
    healthtool pregnancy calendar
    Tool
    eddleman prepare your body pregnancy
    Video