Pitocin During Labor: Benefits and Side Effects

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Pitocin is basically a synthetic version of oxytocin. If your doctor or midwife has decided to induce your labor using a Pitocin, then that is what we call as an ‘induction with Pitocin’.

Pitocin is delivered through an IV in your arm and the level of Pitocin will be increased until you begin to have regular contractions about every 2-3 minutes. The Pitocin can be adjusted if your contractions become way too fast or strong, can be shut off or can be left under your arm until you deliver.

One thing to be kept in mind is that Pitocin alone cannot start the induction unless your cervix is favourable. By favourable, we mean, a cervix that is already gearing up for labor. It is true that Pitocin can induce contractions, but those contractions aren’t really going to do anything unless your cervix is ready to go.

Pitocin During Labor: Things you Should Know

pitocin

What are the Benefits of Pitocin?

There are a number of benefits of Pitocin. One of the most obvious benefit is getting the baby out earlier if you are just over being pregnant.

Also, the risk of cesarean delivery is found to be lower with inductions for women at term or post term as compared to ones who were medically observed until the time of delivery, as per the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

In addition to this, the benefits of a Pitocin induction were found to be significant for the baby with absolutely no added risk for the mom-to-be, as per the same study.

When is an induction becomes necessary?

There are cases when the inductions become medically necessary in a few cases. One such case can be when the risk of the baby staying in the utero is comparatively more and exceeds the risk of the induction.

Conditions like polyhydramnios, Fetal growth restrictions, preeclampsia and other dangerous complications also necessitate the need for induction.

The doctor may suggest using Pitocin to induce labor if your labor has stalled, if you are more than two weeks overdue or if the water has already broken but you haven’t gone into labor on your own.

What are the Side effects of Pitocin?

Pitocin can be really detrimental to one’s health if it’s not administered correctly.  This means that too many contractions in quick succession can also be harmful for the baby. On every contraction, the blood vessels squeeze and thus, the blood supply to the placenta decreases. Therefore, too many contractions for too long can get the baby into trouble. Some of the other listed side effects of Pitocin are listed below:

Uterine rupture

Although rare but if the contractions are too intense, Pitocin can lead to a tear in the uterine wall. There is about 0.5 percent risk of rupture for those women who have had a previous C-section and are now trying to deliver vaginally and on using a Pitocin, the risk increases to about 1.5 percent. And those who never had a C-section, their risk of rupture is extremely low. For ones who have earlier had a C-section can still be given a Pitocin. However, one must take the risk into consideration beforehand.

Painful contractions

A lot of women have reported more painful contractions with Pitocin and this is also one of the most common drawbacks of Pitocin.

Fluid retention

Water intoxication is another common side effect of Pitocin. When in excess, pitocin can lead to water intoxication or retention of fluid. Although this is quite easy to be managed in a hospital setting.

Is there any risk of a Pitocin induction?

Some of the risks with a Pitocin induction are listed as below:

  • Infection
  • Fetal distress
  • Fetal death
  • Rupture of the uterus
  • Overstimulation of the uterus
  • Infection
  • Drop in Fetal heart rate

It is important that one is strictly monitored once they are on Pitocin. You and your baby may get tired as Pitocin induced contractions can interfere with rest. On the same side, it is also very common to see inductions stretch out for days. This is especially the case with first time mothers who haven’t gone to labor yet. Generally, parents do not really expect it to be that long. Thus, it is important that you manage your mental and emotional health as that can otherwise have a negative impact on the labor as well.

Conclusion

If you are a first-time mom-to-be, it is important that you consult your doctor before reaching out to some decision. You must consider all the risks as well as benefits of the same. More importantly, let labor happen all on its own unless a Pitocin induction is medically necessary.

References

Pitocin (Oxytocin) Induction and Birth Injury

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3947469/

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