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Robin Elise Weiss, LCCE

Pitocin

By April 15, 2012

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IV Fluids

Pitocin is a synthetic hormone that tries to mimic oxytocin in our bodies. Oxytocin is the love hormone. It's known for it's role in love making, loving and in labor. Yes, labor. Oxytocin is the hormone that plays a large role in the contractions you experience to help birth your baby.

Pitocin can be used to help speed a stalled labor, induce a labor that has not begun but needs to start or it can help stop postpartum bleeding if it becomes dangerous. Pitocin itself is not the evil incarnate that many moms talk about from their birth experiences.

The problem is that Pitocin can be overused in many labors. The rise in induction of labor has gone dramatic upwards, many times not for medical reasons. The same can be said for speeding up labors that are slower than many practitioners would like.

This overuse can lead to an increase in other complications, even when used for medical indications. This can include fetal distress, contractions that are too long and too strong, and an increase in cesarean sections, particularly for first time mothers.

Another issue with Pitocin is that when it is given, through an IV drip, it is turned up until the contractions reach a certain pattern. This is often a transition like labor, a very hard part of labor. Many hospitals and practitioners have a goal to get to that pattern as quickly as possible. You may notice that Pitocin is turned up every 20-30 minutes depending on the protocol. You have the right to ask that this be done more slowly. Ideally, how often it was adjusted would be a conversation between you and your doctor or midwife.

Some moms swear by Pit, as it's affectionately called in many labor rooms. Other moms are freaked out by the mere mention of the word, both from experience and horror stories. What's your take on Pitocin?

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