Common Labor-Inducing Drug Pitocin Could Harm Your Baby

newbornPitocin 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

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Sirena Robinson

I'll be the first to say I think it's over used. However, I had an emergency 36 week induction to save my daughter. Her APGAR was 10 and she stayed in the nursery for 12 hours due to jaundice. She's now 19 months and has hit every single 24 month milestone.

tyrel... tyrelsmom

They've been using it since 1955.... and just studied the effects on babies now. Anybody else think there's a problem with that? Didn't trust it before, definitely don't like it now. Not saying there aren't situations where the benefits outweigh the risks, but the way it's handed out like IV candy now....

Schmi... SchmidtMommy

What other medications are available to mothers when their water break before any contractions? (as was the case for both of my deliveries)

nonmember avatar Ally

I wanted a natural birth & had a midwife, but pitocin was necessary due to my rising blood pressure. My son had 9-10 APGAR scores & was perfectly healthy. That being said, I agree that it is totally over-used & hope that it is not necessary for my next birth. Your bodies' natural hormones give it a break between contractions, I was not afforded this break, which may be why I have waited over 5 years to go through labor again :)

Samantha Hendrick

i was induced with pitocin when my first two were born because my body was not going into labor on its own and i was 42 weeks both my kids were in perfect health had perfect apagar scores

elise... elisesmom922

I was already thinking of a home birth for my next baby, this just cements that for me. I had inductions with all 4 of my kiddos,for various reasons, and never liked them.

Chris... ChristyM123

This is why I'm a firm believer in going all-natural, unless of course medical intervention is necessary. It drives me up the wall when women complain that their doctor won't induce them just because they are tired of being pregnant. That's not what those drugs are for. This is also why I refused to have an epidural or any other pain med when I was giving birth to my daughter, and will refuse again in about 10 weeks when I give birth to my son. You never know what later studies may find out about this stuff. You hear all too often that something that was once deemed safe, has now been proven to have adverse side effects. It's just not worth the risk to me.

Amanda Solita Shovlin

when water breaks before contractions is a medical nessessity. I had a bad reaction to pitocin for my first baby and my uterus almost ruptured and I almost needed to get blood. My son was a dusty color and his hands and feet were purple. With my daughter, my water broke on it's own, i went into labor on my own and i had only been in labor for 6 hours, water had only been broke for 2 hours and they wanted to give me pitocin to speed it up. I was 2 centimeters. I told them I don't think so and it they tried it i would bite them lol. Turns out I was already 9 centimeters anyway without thier 'much needed' pitocin. And she was a beautiful pink color with a set of lungs. I got to hold her immediatly, when my son had to be put in a incubater on supplemental oxygen.

lovin... loving2live

My first was induced because of severe preeclampsia, and my second was induced because my water broke at 36 weeks but I didn't start contractions within 24 hours. Without pit, I could have had life-threatening complications for me or either of my babies. (Either to eclampsia or infection after the sac ruptured.) I had both induced babies without other medicine, which was rough but manageable.

So I don't think it's an evil drug, but definitely shouldn't be abused for convenience or keeping to a schedule.

Cheryl Clifton

They attempted to induce me 6 times over 3 days to no avail. They measured the bones determining that he was 10# 3 oz..give or take a pound. On the 3rd day we decided on a c-section. He was born 9# 1 oz but did have seizures due to a broken blood vessel in the brain. Do not remember APAGAR score as this was 23 years ago.However he is fine now as blood vessel clotted nd has never had a reoccurence. He's on his 2nd enlistment with the Marines. Looking back it may have been the pictocin but we will never know. Thank God he never got in the birth canal or it may have killed him.Other than that he progressed above normal.

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