Is Pitocin Friend or Foe?

By on May 9, 2024

The Healthful Woman podcast host and maternal-fetal medicine specialist Dr. Fox invited Dr. Stephanie Melka, OB/GYN, to discuss myths about Pitocin and labor, how it works, its uses, and why some women opt out. In the podcast episode “Pitocin: Friend or Foe?”, Discover more about Pitocin and whether you should take it during your pregnancy.

What is Pitocin?

Dr. Melka states, “Pitocin is oxytocin, which is a hormone made by the brain that makes the uterus contract.” This medication is under the brand name Pitocin but is the same thing as oxytocin. This hormone is reproduced in a lab. The naturally occurring oxytocin is made in the brain when someone goes into labor. This is given through a solution of IV fluid, started on a low dose, and increased over time depending on your contractions.

Cases Where Pitocin is Used

Pitocin is used when a woman needs to contract. It is used when an individual needs to be induced, start labor early to have it augmented, or needs stronger and more frequent contractions. Pitocin can also be used after labor to help the uterus contract, help the placenta expel, and decrease uterine bleeding.

Pitocin Myths

The Outcome of Delivery is Linked to Pitocin

The idea that Pitocin affects the outcome of your labor, including C-section, hemorrhage, and other conditions, is considered a myth.

Pitocin is Made from Animals

Pitocin is made in a factory lab setting, and no animals are used to replicate Oxytocin when making Pitocin.

Labor Issues That Require Pitocin

During labor, common issues include power, passenger, and passage. The passenger is the baby, and the pelvis size is predetermined based on their size. The position of the baby in the pelvis can be tweaked a little. The power of labor is the contractions, and these are the only significant fixes during labor. Dr. Fox states, “If the labor’s progressing slowly, the contractions typically aren’t strong enough or aren’t frequent enough, or aren’t lasting long enough, and so, we try to give the Pitocin.” This is increased if needed every half hour until your contractions are at the appropriate interval around three minutes apart.

Pitocin

After giving Pitocin, your doctor will keep you well-monitored for risks. “The risk with it is basically over-contracting the uterus where you would get decreased blood flow through the uterus through the placenta to the baby where you can see drops in a baby’s heart rate. So, you want to avoid over-contracting the uterus.” Dr. Melka expresses. During this time, you will be on the contraction monitor. Pitocin is a very common practice, lowering the risks of birth significantly.

Learn More

To learn more about women’s health, listen to the Healthful Woman podcast hosted by Dr. Fox. Remember to seek guidance from your physician or gynecologist to discuss your options.

Maternal Fetal Medicine blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!

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