Delaying Preterm Labor: What You Need to Know

When it comes to preterm labor, timing is everything. Delaying labor can give your baby's lungs more time to mature and can also allow for the administration of corticosteroids or magnesium sulfate. Tocolytics are medications used to delay labor, sometimes up to 48 hours. If you're at high risk of having a preterm birth, you can give it to your doctor's office even if you don't have

symptoms of childbirth


If you show

signs of preterm labor

and are less than 34 weeks pregnant, your doctor may give you a tocolytic medication to suppress labor and give your baby's lungs more time to mature. Depending on your symptoms and your baby's gestational age, your doctor may prescribe medications to delay or stop preterm labor. If a urinalysis during the diagnosis of

preterm birth

reveals an infection in the bladder, kidneys, or urinary tract, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics. If you test positive for group B strep or if you have a premature premature rupture of the membranes (also called PPROM), your healthcare provider can give you antibiotics to help prevent infections in you and your baby.

Prenatal corticosteroids are given in two injections over a period of 24 to 48 hours. Possible side effects for you may include high blood sugar levels. If you take insulin and receive prenatal corticosteroids, your insulin regimen may need to be adjusted. Magnesium reduces the chance that a premature baby will have delays in neurological development and may also help delay contractions.

If labor is successfully interrupted, you may be sent home from the hospital and your doctor may ask you to restrict certain activities to prevent the symptoms of preterm birth from returning. If the amniotic fluid, or “water,” leaks or ruptures (a condition called premature rupture of the membranes), the doctor will prescribe an antibiotic, which can cause labor to stop.At NYU Langone, treatment for preterm birth depends on the development of the fetus, especially on total weight and gestational age, which is the number of weeks pregnant. It's important to drink enough fluids when you have a preterm birth, as dehydration can cause contractions. However, if the baby isn't ready to be born, the doctor will take steps to delay delivery for as long as possible.

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