Labetalol for high blood pressure during pregnancy


Generic Name Brand Name
labetalol Trandate

Labetalol is an alpha- and beta-blocker drug used to lower high blood pressure during pregnancy. It is sometimes given in the hospital setting, either through a vein (intravenously, or IV) or by mouth. Some doctors also prescribe labetalol by mouth for daily outpatient treatment of high blood pressure.

How It Works

Labetalol decreases heart rate and blood flow, which lowers blood pressure.

Why It Is Used

Labetalol is used to:

  • Treat severe chronic high blood pressure that requires medicine for control during pregnancy. Other drugs may be added for blood pressure control, if needed.
  • Treat severe high blood pressure (it does not prevent seizures).

Labetalol must be used with caution in pregnant women who have asthma, bronchitis, diabetes, kidney or liver disease, an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism), or a slow heart rate.

How Well It Works

Labetalol is usually effective for the control of severe high blood pressure at the end of pregnancy or during labor.1

Side Effects

The side effects of labetalol are usually mild and temporary and may include:

  • Dizziness, sleepiness, or weakness.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Lack of energy.
  • Stuffy nose.
  • Skin flushing or tingling of the scalp.

Labetalol may (in rare cases) decrease the heart rate of a fetus. To prevent this, the mother's blood pressure is monitored carefully and the amount of medicine given is reduced if necessary.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Labetalol lowers blood pressure quickly. For this reason, both mother and fetus are closely monitored during its use.

Blood pressure medicines are usually not used to treat mild high blood pressure during pregnancy. Mild high blood pressure does not usually cause problems for the mother or the baby.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Cunningham FG, et al. (2005). Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy. In Williams Obstetrics, 22nd ed., pp. 761–808. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Last Updated: November 14, 2008

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