Is Pitocin A Curse Word?

After watching the documentary, “The Business of Being Born”, I knew that I wanted to have a natural birth. For my first two births, I declined all medications and my daughters were born in bathtubs. My son was a different story. With my son, my midwife was very concerned about the risk of infection because my water broke prematurely, and my contractions eventually stopped after several hours. After trying several natural interventions, she recommended Pitocin.

Pitocin is very commonly administered to pregnant women in the hospital. In my particular case, my midwife wanted me to take Pitocin so that my contractions would be consistent and strong. Truth be told, when I began brainstorming for ideas for this blog post, I originally intended to communicate that Pitocin is not as dangerous as some people believe it to be. Ironically, after I looked at the drug label, I decided that my original thought was incomplete and somewhat inaccurate. Here are the adverse events that have been reported with the use of Pitocin. This information can be found on DailyMed (a website created by the U.S. National Library of Medicine).

Adverse Events for the Mother

  1. Severe allergic reaction
  2. Bleeding after birth
  3. Abnormal heartbeat
  4. Fatal blood clotting abnormality
  5. Nausea
  6. Vomiting
  7. Pelvic bruising
  8. Bleeding in the head
  9. Episodes of high blood pressure
  10. Rupture of the uterus
  11. Fatal water intoxication

Adverse Events for the Baby

  1. Slow heart rate
  2. Low Apgar scores at five minutes (the Apgar score indicates how healthy the baby is at birth)
  3. Abnormal heartbeat
  4. Jaundice (yellowing of the skin/eyes)
  5. Permanent central nervous system or brain damage
  6. Eye bleeding
  7. Seizures
  8. Death

This might sound rather absurd and dramatic, but everytime my midwife mentioned the word Pitocin, it sounded like she was cursing at me. To me, the administration of Pitocin during labor was synonymous with more labor pain and complications for both my baby and me. Unfortunately, I think that the above list of adverse events validates some of my fears. However, in the end, I did receive Pitocin for a short time and at a very low dose. Thankfully, my baby was super healthy and we both recovered well from the birth!

Did the birth with Pitocin hurt more than the other two natural births? Yes, but keep in mind that my natural births were in water; water helps to alleviate some of the labor pain. After reading about the reported adverse events of Pitocin, do I regret my decision to have Pitocin during labor? No, due to my circumstances, the benefits of a low dose of Pitocin outweighed the risks of the drug.

To moms out there, this post is mostly for you. Whether you are interested in a natural birth or a medicated birth, please know that you have options; I hope that you will educate yourselves so that you can make the best choices for you and your baby.

Dear Mom, whether you choose a natural birth or a medicated birth, you are amazing for bringing life into this world!