How to Delay Labor: How It’s Done Medically

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "Expecting Better" by Emily Oster. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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If you go into labor early, you may need to medically delay labor to delay the risks of premature birth.

How exactly is a delay of labor done? In the hospital, a few things will happen:

  1. You receive tocolytics (eg magnesium sulfate) to suppress contractions and delay birth for 1-2 days.
  2. You receive steroid shots, which speeds up fetal development.
    • Steroids result in 30% decrease in fetal death.
  3. You can get transported to a hospital with a higher-level NICU, with more sophisticated equipment to handle very preterm infants.

What about bedrest? Oster argues there is no evidence that bedrest works at preventing preterm birth. It also entails risk from taking leave from work and medical risks like muscle atrophy and weight loss.

How to Delay Labor: How It’s Done Medically

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Allen Cheng

Allen Cheng is the founder of Shortform. He has a passion for non-fiction books (having read 200+ and counting) and is on a mission to make the world's best ideas more accessible to everyone. He reads broadly, covering a wide range of subjects including finance, management, health, and society. Allen graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude and attended medical training at the MD/PhD program at Harvard and MIT. Before Shortform, he co-founded PrepScholar, an online education company.

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