Pregnancy Week by Week : Week 29 (part 3) - Medications to Help Stop Premature Labor, Epstein-Barr Virus

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6. Your Nutrition

Potassium-rich foods, such as raisins and bananas, may help reduce your risk of premature labor. Potassium helps the body get rid of sodium faster.

We hope you’ve been listening to your body during pregnancy. When you feel hungry or thirsty, eat or drink something. Eating smaller, more frequent meals provides a constant supply of nutrients to your growing baby.

Dad Tip

After the baby is born, you may want to take time off to help out at home and to be part of your baby’s early development. The Family and Medical Leave Act was passed to help people take time off to care for family members. Ask your employer or supervisor now if it applies to you. If it does, and you plan to take time off, begin making arrangements soon.

Keep nourishing snacks near at hand. Dried fruit and nuts are good choices when you’re on the go. Know what time of day or night hunger strikes you. Be prepared.

You can be different, if you want to be. Eat spaghetti for breakfast and cereal for lunch, if that’s what appeals to you. Don’t force yourself to eat something that turns you off or makes you sick. There’s always an alternative. As long as you eat nourishing food and pay attention to the types of foods you eat, you help yourself and your growing baby.

Medications to Help Stop Premature Labor

Beta-adrenergic agents, also called tocolytic agents, may be used to suppress labor. They relax your muscles and may help decrease contractions. (The uterus is mainly muscle.)

At this time, only ritodrine (Yutopar) is approved by the FDA to treat premature labor. It is given in three different forms—intravenously, as an intramuscular injection and as a pill. It is usually first given intravenously and may require a hospital stay.

When premature contractions stop, you can be switched to oral medicine, which you take every 2 to 4 hours. Ritodrine is approved for use in pregnancies over 20 weeks and under 36 weeks gestation. In some cases, medication is used without first giving an I.V. This is done most often in women with a history of premature labor or for a woman with multiple pregnancies.

Terbutaline may also be used to halt premature labor. Although it has been shown to be effective, it hasn’t been approved for this use by the FDA.

Magnesium sulfate is used to treat pre-eclampsia; it may also help stop premature labor. An additional benefit of administering magnesium sulfate during pregnancy is called neuroprotection. Some studies show a decreased risk of cerebral palsy and severe motor dysfunction in a baby when it is used. However, not all experts agree with using magnesium sulfate for neuroprotection.

Magnesium sulfate is usually given through an I.V. and requires hospitalization. However, it is occasionally given orally, without hospitalization. You must be monitored frequently if you take magnesium sulfate.

Some women should not receive magnesium sulfate. These include women with myasthenia gravis, those with myocardial compromise or cardiac-conduction defects and women with impaired kidney function.

Sedatives or narcotics may be used in early attempts to stop labor. A woman might receive an injection of morphine or meperidine (Demerol). This is not a long-term solution but may be effective in initially stopping labor.

Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a member of the herpes virus family; it is one of the most common human viruses. Most people become infected with EBV sometime during their life. In the United States, as many as 95% of adults between 35 and 40 years of age have been infected. We don’t know of any connection between an active EBV infection and problems during pregnancy. Studies of EBV during pregnancy show the virus poses little threat to the baby.

Progesterone (17-hydroxyprogesterone) may be given to a pregnant woman if her previous baby was born prematurely. Some studies indicate a woman with a short cervix may also benefit from this treatment.

Other preparations, such as vaginal creams and oral medications, are being tested. Folic-acid supplementation for at least 1 year before pregnancy has been shown to decrease the occurrence of early preterm birth.

If you have premature labor, you may need to see your healthcare provider frequently. He or she will probably monitor you with ultrasound or nonstress tests.

7. Exercise for Week 29


Kneel on the ground, sitting lightly on your heels with your feet tucked under you and your toes on the ground. Sit tall. Press your toes into the ground. Hold. Do 5 or 6 times, or as often as you want. Loosens calf and foot muscles; may help prevent leg cramps.


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