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Progesterone Shots

At risk for early delivery? It's a good time to find a pediatrician who knows preemies

If you have concerns about a premature birth, you may have heard that progesterone shots can prevent early labor. You might even be wondering what progesterone shots are and if you should I get them?

At risk for early delivery? It's a good time to schedule a prenatal consultation

If you've had a premature baby in the past, your doctor may prescribe progesterone shots during your current pregnancy to help prevent early labor.

Babies born too early (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) can have health problems, including breathing and feeding problems, vision problems, and problems with learning. Some premature babies do not survive.

The progesterone shot (sometimes called "17P" for the drug name [17 alpha-hydroxyprogesterone caproate] or its brand name, Makena®) can increase a woman's chance of having a full-term baby.

17P has the hormone progesterone in it, which helps prevent contractions. The uterus contracts during labor to help "push" a baby out of the womb for delivery.

Doctors recommend starting 17P shots during the second trimester of pregnancy, usually between 16 and 20 weeks. Shots are given by a health care provider in the hip or thigh area. They are given until 37 weeks.

As with any shot, there's a risk of minor side effects like redness and soreness at the shot site. Rarely, some women get blood clots or have allergic reactions.

If you have questions or concerns about progesterone shots, or you're wondering if they're right for you, speak with you doctor. He or she will talk with you about any risk of early labor you have and help you decide if progesterone shots are right for you.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: November 2016

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