Medicines for preterm labor
What kinds of medicines are used during preterm labor?
There are three kinds of medicines your provider may give you if you’re having preterm labor. They include:
- Antibiotics. These kill infections caused by bacteria. You may need antibiotics if you have Group B strep infection or if you have preterm premature rupture of membranes (also called PPROM). PPROM is when the sac around your baby breaks early, before 37 weeks of completed pregnancy, causing labor to start.
- Corticosteroids. These speed up your baby’s lung development. They also greatly reduce the risk of death and health problems in your baby, such as respiratory distress syndrome, bleeding in the brain (called intraventricular hemorrhage) and infection in your baby’s intestines (called necrotizing enterocolitis).
- Tocolytics. These slow or stop labor contractions. Tocolytic medicines may delay labor, often for just a few days. This delay may give you time to get treatment with corticosteroids or to get to a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This is part of a hospital that takes care of sick newborns.
Sometimes these medicines may cause side effects for you and your baby. Side effects are different for every woman and depend on the kind of medicine you get. Your provider can help you decide which medicine is best for you and your baby. For example, if you have a health condition, like a heart problem or severe preeclampsia, some tocolytics may not be safe for you.
Here are some medicines used during preterm labor and possible side effects for mom and baby:
Last reviewed October 2012
See also: Preterm labor and birth, Premature babies, Progesterone treatment to prevent preterm birth, High blood pressure, Headache, Nausea, Vaginal bleeding, Oligohydramnios, Amniotic fluid, Jaundice, Fatigue
Signs of preterm labor
- Contractions every 10 minutes or more often
- Change in vaginal discharge
- Pelvic pressure
- Low, dull backache
- Cramps that feel like your period
- Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea