Obstetrician / Gynecologist David Barrere Tells You About A Few Of The Medications That Might Be Use

If you go into labor prematurely, there are many ways in which your caregiver may try to stop your labor. Obstetrician / Gynecologist David Barrere tells you about a few of the medications that might be used, how they're administered, and the reason for their use.
David Barrere, MD

Your question
What kind of medications may be given to stop premature labor? -- Jody in Plymouth, MN

The expert answers
Jody,

When premature labor is diagnosed, medications (tocolytics) can be used to decrease the frequency and intensity of contractions. In some instances, such as seen with chorioamnionitis (an infection of the placental membranes), medical treatment is usually ineffective. In situations such as this, prolonging the pregnancy may be detrimental to both mother and baby.

The choice of tocolytic medication used to treat premature labor depends upon the gestational age, fetal condition, and maternal condition. All tocolytics exert their effects by decreasing the availability of calcium to the uterine musculature. These medications, although having similar actions on calcium, have different routes of administration, side effects, and speed of onset. The available tocolytic choices are:

  • Terbutaline (Brethine) ? subcutaneous, oral
  • Nifedipine ? oral
  • Indomethacin (Indocin) ? oral, rectal
  • Magnesium Sulfate ? IV
  • Ritodrine ? IV
The choice of medication used will be individualized for each particular case. PregnancyAndBaby.com

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