Sunday, March 21, 2010

What Pitocin Does to Your Baby

I understand that most women don't know what pitocin does to a baby. I was one of those women, 8 years ago, when I happily had my labor augmented with pitocin to "move things along". If I knew what I know now, I never would have put my baby through that hell. It is my goal to bring about awareness of what this drug does to babies, and why we should avoid it unless it is an emergency.

Studies have found that in recent years, up to 3 out of 4 inductions weren't even medically indicated. Being a few days, or even a week past your due date is not a medical indication for induction. Being tired of being pregnant is not a medical indication for induction. Suspecting that baby is getting big, is not a medical indication for induction. Having fast or slow labors is not an indication for induction. Even ACOG themselves, along with many other national and world-wide health organizations have acknowledged that the high number of inductions and augmentations that are done is out of control.

I know the question that is on your mind - "If it's not safe, why would my doctor do it?", or for the already defensive "MY doctor wouldn't do it if it weren't safe!".

Well, doctors know it's not safe. That's why they have to monitor you and the baby much more closely when pitocin is involved. If mom has pitocin and an epidural, they will often insert *internal* monitors to have a closer look at how baby is doing. They understand that the drug can be very risky for baby, and that's why a good chunk of pitocin induced or augmented labors end up with baby in distress to one degree or another. A pit labor is HORRIBLE for baby. It puts baby through completely unnaturally strong contractions, which is why it often leads to distress. And before any mom says "My baby was fine!" - don't even comment. Just count your blessings. Most babies are NOT fine. Even if baby ends up fine in the end, most pitocin drugged babies are not fine during labor.

Pitocin is actually not recommended for pregnant women. It was never intended to be an elective labor induction drug. It is not even approved by the FDA for elective ( again, that's 3 out of 4 inductions! ) induction or augmentation! And the saddest part is, in an artificial labor, mom doesn't get the glorious dump of natural oxytocin - also known as the "love" hormone - as women do who have natural labors.

What can you do? Be patient. Understand that a due date is simply an estimation, and that normal gestation length is all the way up to 42 *completed* weeks. Be patient and understand that labor ONLY begins when baby and your body are ready. If you choose to induce before then, you are literally trying to force your baby out - forcefully. Remember that YOU hired your care provider. They cannot force you to induce if you get to 41/42 weeks. You have the right to say NO! Remember that your baby is a tiny little being that needs your protection - be gentle with him! Each baby only gets one birth. Please do the best you can to provide a safe, gentle birth for each baby. Each intervention that you allow in labor has the potential to imprint negatively on baby. Let's take care with our precious blessings!

From the FDA website:

For the fetus or neonate it can cause:

Due to induced uterine motility:
Low Apgar scores at five minutes
Premature ventricular contractions and other arrhythmias
Neonatal jaundice
Permanent CNS or brain damage
Neonatal retinal hemorrhage
Fetal death
Neonatal seizures have been reported with the use of Pitocin.

From Jennifer Block's Website:

When your uterus contracts, the baby and umbilical cord essentially get a squeeze, and little oxygen passes through to the baby until the contraction is over. Labor is essentially sprint-training. Spontaneous labor generally starts off slow, allowing you and the baby to get acclimated. Pitocin, on the other hand, takes you from zero to 60 all at once. Your body’s contractions start slow and build; artificial contractions can hit like a gale force wind. And if staff are not careful, they can be too strong and last too long — the technical term is hyperstimulation — causing the baby to be deprived of oxygen. Most babies turn out fine, but some don’t. Consider this: in nearly half of malpractice suits involving damage to the baby, synthetic oxytocin is cited as the culprit.

A video clip from Ricki Lake's The Business Of Being Born: