Pitocin: Worst Enemy or Best Friend?
Pitocin v. Oxytocin
Oxytocin is a powerful hormone that is often called the love hormone because it is released when you make physical contact with a loved one. It helps with social interactions, childbirth, and maternal infant bonding.
Pitocin is a synthetic medication that mimics oxytocin and is intended to increase the level of the contractions during childbirth and control bleeding after birth
Often the word “pitocin” has a negative connotation. Many individuals, both birthing folks and even some doulas, feel that because oxytocin is a laboring person’s best friend, pitocin is therefore their worst enemy. And, that is just not always true! Pitocin is a great way to help move your labor along, but may make the contractions be a bit more uncomfortable than if you were to labor without it.
Benefits of Pitocin
- Usually necessary for medical inductions
- To use if water has broken and contractions have not begun to avoid any medical risks associated with broken water
- Helps if labor has stalled and the birthing person needs help to restart labor
- Can help control postpartum bleeding
Risks of Pitocin
- Overstimulation of uterus
- Fetal distress/drop in fetal heart rate
What to Expect From Pitocin
Pitocin in administered by a medical profession through an IV. You will have fetal monitoring for some or all of the time to allow your medical team to closely watch how your baby is responding to the medication. Depending on why you are needing pitocin, it usually is administered when you have some dilation as it does not influence your cervix, but only the intensity of your contractions.
Pitocin will increase your contractions in a faster way than your body is doing so. This may be because you are need a medical induction, or because your labor has stalled. The pitocin levels are closely monitored, but do increase your contractions at a rate that is faster, so the contractions feel harder and stronger than if you were to labor unmedicated.
With all medical decisions, it is best to always consult with your medical provider if you have more questions or concerns. With all of our doula clients, we recommend also using your B.R.A.I.N. to make the decision that is best for you. As doulas, we are trained in options, so we are always available to talk through the decision process with our clients. Our goal is that our clients understand all of their options and educate themselves about why pitocin sometimes is exactly what you need to help move your labor along faster.
Contact us today to learn more about our complete support for birthing individuals and families in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill and surrounding areas!