Birth Definitions

Terbutaline Definition


Terbutaline is a medication used to stop or slow preterm labor. It is available as a tablet, syrup, or injection. It is a beta-agonist, which means it works by stimulating the beta-receptors in the body, resulting in relaxation of smooth muscle tissue. Terbutaline is a medication typically used to treat asthma. However, it has also been found to be effective in stopping pre-term labor. When given to pregnant women who are at risk for pre-term labor, Terbutaline can help to delay the onset of labor, and therefore improve the outcome for both mother and child. 

Although the mechanism by which Terbutaline works to stop pre-term labor is not fully understood, it has been found that it stimulates the beta-receptors in the body, resulting in relaxation of smooth muscle tissue. It is thought that the drug acts on the uterus, relaxing the muscles and thereby delaying contractions. Terbutaline has also been found to be effective in treating other conditions of pregnancy such as tocolysis and premature rupture of membranes.

The main benefit of terbutaline is that it can help stop or slow preterm labor. This can give the baby more time to develop and improve their chances of survival and avoid complications such as cerebral palsy. Terbutaline can also help to reduce the risk of maternal hemorrhage during delivery.

Side effects of Terbutaline

The side effects of the use of Terbutaline during pregnancy include increased heart rate, anxiety, shaking, headache, dizziness, and nausea. In some cases, it may also cause an irregular heartbeat. These side effects are typically mild and resolve on their own. More serious side effects are rare but can include floppy infant syndrome when used close to delivery. 

Some women may be at increased risk for developing preeclampsia when taking terbutaline, so be sure to discuss this with your doctor if you have any concerns.

Other Related Terms

Some terms closely associated with Terbutaline include the following:

  • Beta-agonist
  • Bronchodilator
  • Tocolytic

This image shows how often the term ‘Terbutaline’ is used in relation to other, similar birth terms:

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