I am a huge believer that educating moms is the best way to prepare them for labor and birth. Mom's should know what is going into their bodies and should know the risks and side effects. Today, we are examining Pitocin. Pitocin is a drug that many providers use for labor induction, as it is a synthetic form of Oxytocin (a hormone a woman's body creates that causes the uterus to contract). Some providers simply use it to augment or speed-up labor. Notice how most doctors never talk about the risks of pitocin to the baby or the mom?
The below image was taken from safefetus.com and describes the Risk Category, Indication (suggested use) and Fetal Risks of Pitocin. In the labors where mother's were given pitocin, I will venture a guess that most of them never get this information.
Fetal Bradycardia - Slow heart rate, usually under 100 beats per minute (bpm)
Neonatal retinal hemorrhage - Abnormal bleeding of the blood vessels in the retina, the membrane in the back of the eye
Neonatal Jaundice -yellowing of the pigment in the skin and eyes due to high billirubin levels
Tetanic contractions - long, strong contractions where there is no resting period for the muscle
Abruptio Placenta - the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus, which can cause severe bleeding
Cardia Arrythmia - abnormal heart rate
Intracranial Hemorrhage - bleeding in the cranium
Asphyxia - lack of oxygen, suffocation
|Courtesy of safefetus.com|
Amazing how when you look at it from this angle, it doesn't seem like such a good idea. According to Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, using induction drugs like Oxytocin during labor causes approximately 1-2% of women to suffer uterine rupture, a potentially fatal condition for mom and baby. The risk for Vaginal Birth After Ceserean (VBAC) moms (not using pitocin) is only .6-.7%. Funny that doctors won't do VBACs because of the risk of uterine rupture, but they do routine elective inductions with Pitocin like it is risk-free.
Of course, sometimes you have to pick the lesser of two evils, and induction becomes medically necessary. Regardless, it is good to be educated on what you are putting into your body (and your baby).