Pitocin is too often given to women while at the hospital in labor. Watch almost any mainstream documentary type show on birth and you'll lose count how many times they say "pit." Pitocin is a drug. It's a synthetic hormone meant to mimic your natural oxytocin. We all know that nothing is as good as the real thing. Pitocin gives women more intense and therefore unnatural contractions. It tries to speed the body along in labor when it's not ready, often stalling it, and can lead to a c-section that probably wouldn't have happened if Pitocin was never given in the first place. Natural birth advocates know that there is an evil side to inductions and this drug, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have finally revealed the truth after an in-depth study.
Pitcoin is bad. It has adverse effects on newborns. It's dangerous for our babies and puts their health at risk.
There are always going to be times when drugs during labor are good and needed. And the same goes for Pitocin. But the way it's given out currently, it's misused and it's over-prescribed. It's perhaps seen as something to speed things along, when birth (in most cases) shouldn't be rushed. Up until now, many believed Pitocin to be generally safe for babies. Mom got the brunt of the side effects. But the ACOG had to admit the truth after researchers at Beth Israel Medical Center in NYC found that the use of Pitcoin increased a full-term newborn's risk of going to the NICU and resulted in lower Apgar scores.
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More babies who were full-term had to unexpectedly go to the NICU for more than 24 hours when born to mothers who were given Pitcoin. Baby's Apgar score was also lower -- it's something used to evaluate a newborn's health just after birth looking at heart rate, how the skin looks, responses, muscle tone, and breathing rate. The babies born to mothers who were given Pitocin had lower scores -- less than 7 in most cases. A score of 8 and above is considered good health.
The study looked at over 3,000 full-term deliveries from 2009 to 2011. Primary Investigator Michael S. Tsimis, MD, said:
As a community of practitioners, we know the adverse effects of Pitocin from the maternal side but much less so from the neonatal side. These results suggest that Pitocin use is associated with adverse effects on neonatal outcomes. It underscores the importance of using valid medical indications when Pitocin is used.
Clearly, Pitocin isn't as safe as many thought. This hopefully will serve as a warning for doctors and nurses to stop giving it out to pregnant mothers unless it's absolutely necessary. And moms-to-be should know they have the right to refuse it as well. Interventions are not always needed. And when they aren't, what ends up happening is unnatural -- one intervention invites another intervention and far too many end up being given labor inducing drugs like Pitocin only to have their bodies (essentially their babies) telling them it's not time. They are not ready to birth. But with clocks ticking in a hospital, this is one of the big reasons the c-section rate is so high.
There is also a case where a newborn is believed to have gotten brain damage after his mother was given Pitocin.
On the heels of the American Academy of Pediatrics trying to scare people about home births, I'm so happy the ACOG came forward with this revelation. All involved with birth should get along, should learn from each other. Because this shouldn't be a war on who birthed "best" or most naturally. This should be about how can we birth babies and make sure they are safe and healthy -- with all the knowledge we know. For each woman, and each baby, that birth journey is different. But it shouldn't be unnecessarily hindered. We shouldn't be induced when we aren't ready to birth. We shouldn't be given drugs many of us don't need that ends up putting our babies' lives at risk.
Does this study change the way you view Pitocin?
Image via Jan de Graaf/Flickr