Appropriate Use of Interventions: Induction or Augmentation with Pitocin

Pitocin -- the synthetic form of oxytocin, the body's natural hormone that stimulates contractions -- is one of the most frequently used medical interventions to induce or augment (speed up) birth. Below are some facts and tips to help you learn more about Pitocin, including how to avoid it, when it's necessary, and how to keep labor as normal as possible if you are induced with Pitocin.

From The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence.What to Know:

  • Pitocin increases stress on your baby and your uterus and makes contractions more difficult to manage.
  • Pitocin use necessitates an IV and continuous EFM, restricts your mobility, and raises your risk of epidural and cesarean.
  • The WHO believes that Pitocin induction and augmentation are often used inappropriately.
  • The ACOG notes the risks of Pitocin use and recommends cautious decision making.

You'll Need Induction if:

  • Your labor is slow and doesn't respond to movement, position change, and hydration.
  • You don't go into labor spontaneously by forty-two weeks gestation.
  • You have a uterine infection.
  • You have severe pregnancy-induced hypertension.

How to Avoid Unnecessary Use:

  • Be patient waiting for labor to begin and to progress.
  • Remember that your body knows how to give birth.
  • Surround yourself with helpers who trust birth.
  • Stay confident.
  • Use all the comfort measures you've learned.
  • Don't agree to be induced because your caregiver says your baby is getting too big.
  • If your water breaks before contractions start, or if you go past your due date, discuss with your caregiver natural ways to stimulate contractions, such as drinking a bit of castor oil in juice, stimulating your nipples, and being active.
  • Ask, What if I wait? if your caregiver is insistent about inducing labor.

How to Keep Labor as Normal as Possible if You are Induced:

  • Make sure your helpers give you continuous emotional and physical support.
  • Actively seek comfort in response to the pain of contractions.
  • Remember that your body knows how to give birth.
  • Visualize your baby rotating and descending through your birth canal.
  • Keep moving and changing positions as much as possible.

Did you have Pitocin during your birth? How did it affect your experience? What advice can you give to other moms who may have Pitocin?


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