Preterm labor isn't always treated. When deciding whether—and how—to treat it, your doctor or nurse-midwife will think about:
- Your baby's weight and age. Ideally, preterm labor is delayed until a baby is mature enough to avoid problems after birth. When a pregnancy is nearing term (about 37 or more weeks), preterm labor is usually allowed to continue until delivery.
- Your health. Very high blood pressure, severe Reference preeclampsia Opens New Window, Reference HELLP syndrome, chronic disease, infection, or heavy bleeding can make it necessary to deliver right away.
- Your baby's health. Signs of fetal distress or illness can make it necessary to deliver right away.
- The stage of your labor and how fast it's moving along. For example, when your cervix is well Reference effaced and dilated, medicine to slow labor is less likely to work.
- The distance to the nearest neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). If there is a good chance that you could be taken to the NICU, your doctor may try to slow labor.
If your Reference water hasn't broken, you will be observed for at least an hour or two to see if your contractions continue and your cervix changes (opens and thins). If your cervix doesn't change, or if your contractions stop or slow down, you may be sent home.
If your cervix changes, you will be admitted to the labor and delivery unit.
In the hospital, your doctor or nurse-midwife may use medicines to:
- Slow or stop contractions.
- Treat infection.
- Help the baby's lungs mature.
For more information, see Reference Medications.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference May 10, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Reference William Gilbert, MD - Maternal and Fetal Medicine