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What is Atosiban?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Images By: Firma V, Sicko Atze Van Dijk, Trish23
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2016
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Atosiban is a hormone doctors may prescribe to stop premature labor with the goal of keeping the baby inside the uterus as long as possible. This drug will stop or weaken uterine contractions. It is not available in all nations, and is one among a library of drugs doctors can use in the management of preterm labor. Patients who want to know more about how a doctor will manage premature labor in their case can discuss this while developing a birth plan to get an idea of the available options. Knowing what will happen ahead of time can make the experience less frightening.

This medication suppresses the activities of oxytocin and vasopressin, two hormones involved in stimulating uterine contractions. Women in premature labor will deliver their babies if the cervix is allowed to dilate and uterine contractions increase in frequency and intensity. Stopping those contractions can halt the labor. While the baby may still ultimately be delivered early, putting the brakes on labor with drugs like atosiban provides an opportunity for interventions like steroid injections to develop the baby's lungs, increasing the chances of survival outside the womb.

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If a patient enters premature labor and a doctor feels atosiban is an appropriate treatment, a nurse or doctor can perform an intravenous injection or add the medication to an intravenous drip, adjusting the settings to deliver the medication within the desired time frame. The patient should report on the strength of contractions in the meanwhile so care providers can determine if the medication is working. Doctors may also listen to the fetal heart rate, checking for signs of fetal distress and other issues that might complicate the case.

Labor repressants like atosiban can be useful for slowing the onset of labor. In premature labor, the longer the baby stays inside, the better the chances at the time of delivery. In some cases, it may be possible to stop labor altogether, allowing the fetus to develop to full maturity and deliver on the due date. In other cases, the patient may go back into labor when the hormones wear off. A doctor can decide to administer another dose of drugs or move forward with delivering the baby and providing medical interventions to address issues like low birth weight and incomplete lung formation.

People with a history of premature labor may want to discuss this when developing a birth plan and meeting with an obstetrician. It is especially advisable to note any prior allergic or other bad reactions to drugs like atosiban. Being aware of bad drug reactions will allow a doctor to choose a more appropriate medication to use when treating premature labor.

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