Considerations for taking tocolytic medications

The factors your doctor or nurse-midwife will consider before offering tocolytic treatment for preterm labor include:1

  • Your due date. If you are close to your due date, delaying the birth may not be necessary. (Most health professionals will not consider using a tocolytic after 34 weeks of pregnancy.)
  • How far you have progressed in labor.
  • Whether you have an infection in your uterus. If you do have a uterine infection, tocolytics should not be used.
  • Whether your amniotic sac has broken (premature rupture of membranes, or PROM).
  • Your health. If you have high blood pressure or heart or kidney problems, tocolytic medications may be dangerous.
  • The health of your fetus. Tocolytics are not used if a fetus is in distress or has died before birth.
  • Your fetus's lungs. A tocolytic may hold off the birth long enough for steroid medicine to help your fetus's lungs develop.


  1. American Academy of Pediatrics and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2007). Obstetric and medical complications. In Guidelines for Perinatal Care, 6th ed., pp. 175–204. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Last Updated: January 14, 2009

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