Pit as Labor Candy for Whom?
*By Chiqui Brosas-Hahn
for Junior Magazine
Oxytocin is a normal hormone that the body of a woman produces to stimulate her contractions in labor. Pitocin is the synthetic pharmaceutical hormone version of oxytocin. It can be administered by intravenous or muscular injection. It is clear, colorless like water and is sterile.
There are two reasons why it is generally used to a pregnant woman;
1.) To induce her labor. This means to start her contractions for her.
2.) To augment her contractions. This means to make her contractions stronger or to speed it up.
This must be administered by a provider in a clinical set up where mother can be monitored regularly. Her uterine contractions are checked as well as her blood pressure and heart rate. The heart rate of the baby is also monitored that is why mother is usually attached to a fetal monitor. In this way, an emergency can be treated right away.
There are some contraindications in taking Pitocin. if you have the following, consult your doctor first before taking it.
· cervical cancer
· previous cesarean
· surgery on the cervix
· an allergy to oxytocin
· have a prolapsed uterus
· a breech or placenta previa
· had more than 7 pregnancies
· issues with the fetus/ umbilical cord
Although side effects are not common, there are some serious side effects. Notify your doctor as soon as you have them.
· chest pain
· allergic reaction
· severe headache
· nausea/ vomiting
· difficulty breathing
· difficulty urinating
· irregular heart beat
· excessive swelling
· sudden weight gain
· excessive vaginal bleeding
In my last birth my doctor and I decided to speed up my labor after three days of slow progress. I have had several natural unmedicated births before to be able to compare the difference between my body’s own oxytocin versus the pitocin that was administered to me to speed up my labor. They had me on a regular intravenous Pitocin pump that regulated the consistent flow of the drug. If I remember right, it was 12 drops a minute. Immediately, I felt the difference in the nature of my contractions. I had no anesthesia so I felt everything! After what seemed to me was a very short period of time, maybe only a minute or two, I felt the contractions change in speed and intensity. They were very strong and more difficult to manage. No wonder a lot of mothers give up not being able to ride the predictable and constant wave of the contractions. The length of the pitocin infused on them also wears them down since the contractions are very close together and there is hardly any room to rest. Unlike the natural oxytocic hormone coming from our body that gets secreted in bursts and that adjusts to what the mother is feeling, the pitocin has a steady flow of hormones. It is unconcerned about what the mother is feeling. The contractions are very predictable. Usually contractions lasts for one minute long and giving the mother only a minute to rest in between. If the mother is very tired and has no more stamina, she won’t be able to last the rigors of birth.
The pitocin’s induced in labor may decrease the blood flow in the uterus and if it is administered for a long time, can cause . To be able to detect any problem, the mother would have to be attached to a continuous electronic fetal monitor. She will now be stuck in bed. Her position will be limited and she will not be able to deal with the pain naturally. So, this could snow ball to an epidural anesthesia.
Proper timing of the Pitocin can help. If laboring mother needs it, it must be given to her before she and her uterus tires down and when her uterus and cervix are ready and ripe to receive it. Pitocin has it’s advantages and uses as well. By all means use it if necessary, for example, it is also commonly given after birth to help detach the placenta quickly and to prevent .
In reality, pitocin is frequently used and in the States, it is said to be one of the most abused drug even if its safety is still being questioned. In a Wall St. Journal in 2006, a medical professional remarked, "Pitocin is used like candy in the OB world."
It is definitely not candy for the pregnant woman since it’s pain is overbearing. It is also definitely not candy for the fetus since it can cause fetal distress. I think Pitocin is like candy to certain obstetricians who try to control the births of their patients to meet their personal schedules.
It is therefore very important to be well informed. Take Childbirth Preparation Classes. Read books, research in the internet to be well informed. Come up with a detailed birth plan with alternatives with your partner and your care provider for options to use if a complication does arise. It is also wise to find out from others the vaginal to cesarean delivery ration of your doctor just to make sure you are in safe hands. Pit is never candy for mother or child!
*Chiqui Brosas-Hahn is a USA Trained Childbirth Educator, having attended several International Childbirth Education Association conventions in the USA and having finished a full course of the Bradley Method as an instructor. She has been teaching childbirth classes for at least eighteen years. Please visit www.ChiquiBrosas.blogspot.com or email her at , or txt Mobile: +63917-88BIRTH or call Olive at 9644341 to pre-register for the Prepared Childbirth Classes.