Labetalol for High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

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Labetalol for High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy


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Labetalol is an alpha- and beta-blocker drug used to lower high blood pressure during pregnancy. It is sometimes given in the hospital setting, either through a vein (intravenously, or IV) or by mouth. Some doctors also prescribe labetalol by mouth for daily outpatient treatment of high blood pressure.

How It Works

Labetalol decreases heart rate and blood flow, which lowers blood pressure.

Why It Is Used

Labetalol is used to:

  • Treat severe chronic high blood pressure that requires medicine for control during pregnancy. Other drugs may be added for blood pressure control, if needed.
  • Treat severe high blood pressure (it does not prevent seizures).

Labetalol must be used with caution in pregnant women who have asthma, bronchitis, diabetes, kidney or liver disease, an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism), or a slow heart rate.

How Well It Works

Labetalol is usually effective for the control of severe high blood pressure at the end of pregnancy or during labor.1

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Hives.

Common side effects of this medicine include:

  • Dizziness, sleepiness, or weakness.
  • Lack of energy.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Skin flushing or tingling of the scalp.
  • Stuffy nose.

In rare cases, labetalol may slow the heart rate of a fetus. To prevent this from happening, the mother's blood pressure is monitored carefully and the amount of medicine given is reduced if necessary.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Labetalol lowers blood pressure quickly. For this reason, both mother and fetus are closely monitored during its use.

Blood pressure medicines are usually not used to treat mild high blood pressure during pregnancy. Mild high blood pressure does not usually cause problems for the mother or the baby.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

When you are pregnant or breast-feeding, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant or breast-feeding.


Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Cunningham FG, et al. (2010). Pregnancy hypertension. In Williams Obstetrics, 23nd ed., pp. 706–755. New York: McGraw-Hill.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerWilliam Gilbert, MD - Maternal and Fetal Medicine
Last RevisedNovember 5, 2012

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