Pit is the Pits

if you are giving birth in america then it’s most likely your birth will be attended by your obstetrician. if you have an OB attending your birth then somewhere the word “induction” is floating around out there as a possibility because most OBs are not comfortable with a woman carrying her child past 42 weeks of pregnancy.

here’s when i’m going to have to use the P word: an induction most often means using Pitocin (or Pit in L&D lingo) to start the uterus contracting. i found some information about pitocin that i thought would be useful to share. if so many of us are facing an induced birth then it wouldn’t hurt to know a little more about this drug. here’s a cut and paste of the article:

The numbers of inductions of labor using artificial means like Pitocin and other medications has gone up dramatically in the last few years. A hospital in my area says that 90% of the women have their labors induced. Since science shows us that inducing labor can increase the numbers of complications in the labor and with the baby, you might be surprised to note that many of the inductions are not for medical reasons, but rather reasons of convenience, practitioner or mother, known as social induction.


One of the things that women tell me is that they are lead to believe that induction is completely safe and relatively easy, after all, Pitocin is just another form of the body’s own oxytocin, right?

While this statement is generally true, artificially created hormones, including Pitocin do not act identically to the hormones in ones body. For example, in pregnancy both the mother and the baby produce oxytocin. The oxytocin produced by each reacts differently in the body because they each have separate jobs.

Here are five things that you may not know about Pitocin and how it can effect your labor:


  • Pitocin is released differently.
    Oxytocin is released into your body in a pulsing action. It comes intermittently to allow your body a break. Pitocin is given in an IV in a continuous manner. This can cause contractions to be longer and stronger than your baby or placenta can handle, depriving your baby of oxygen.
  • Pitocin prevents your body from offering endorphins.
    When you are in labor naturally, your body responds to the contractions and oxytocin with the release of endorphins, a morphine like substance that helps prevent and counteract pain. When you receive Pitocin, your body does not know to release the endorphins, despite the fact that you are in pain.
  • Pitocin isn’t as effective at dilating the cervix.
    When the baby releases oxytocin it works really well on the uterine muscle, causing the cervix to dilate. Pitocin works much more slowly and with less effect, meaning it takes more Pitocin to work.
  • Pitocin lacks a peak at birth.
    In natural labor, the body provides a spike in oxytocin at the birth, stimulating the fetal ejection reflex, allowing for a faster and easier birth. Pitocin is regulated by a pump and not able to offer this boost at the end.
  • Pitocin can interfere with bonding.
    When the body releases oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, it promotes bonding with the baby after birth. Pitocin interferes with the internal release of oxytocin, which can disturb the bonding process.

Your body’s own natural oxytocin is superior in many ways to Pitocin. There are also ways to increase the release of this natural oxytocin including skin-to-skin contact, lovemaking, breastfeeding, and others.

So, if you are presented with the option of an induction of labor, you might want to ask your provider about whether or not it is being done for a medical reason or if it’s something that a bit of time and patience will help alleviate.


original article found here with source information.

i love the last sentence of that article. i had pitocin when darla was born and if i had known more about it then i probably would have asserted myself to wait a little longer to see if contractions would start on their own. i hope this helps to start any of you expectant readers to do more questioning, discussing and informed decision making based on your own birth philosophies.


2 thoughts on “Pit is the Pits

  1. i was induced with my first born. it was on a tuesday and she was born friday by c-section as i never progressed past 9cm. as soon as we made the decision to go with the c-section they turned the drip off and i went from contracting about every 2-3 mins to not another single contraction. my body therefore was doing none of it, any labour i was experiencing was totally down to the medication. it was what you may call a “traumatic birth experience”, followed by postpartum depression. i fully believe that being induced had everything to do with this. i tell everyone i know to hold out as long as they can before being induced. i wish that i had been better informed, i definitely would have waited longer before agreeing. we tend to believe that our doctors have our best interests in mind but we really need to be our own advocates.
    thanks for spreading the word about this, i hope that more attention is brought to this subject.
    there’s eight and a half years between my children, i was TERRIFIED to go through everything all over again. at about thirty weeks into pregnancy #2, after much contemplation, grief, guilt and heartache i decided not to try for a vbac, mainly because i was so afraid to have a repeat performance. this time there was no postpartum, an excellent breastfeeding relationship and it was everything i had hoped for the first time minus the labour and delivery. funny thing though, my ob was seemingly pleased that i chose not to go vbac!

  2. hi jenni, i’m so sorry to hear about your traumatic experience the first time around. but i’m so glad to hear that your second experience was so much better and sounds like it helped you heal some from your first birth. we are lucky to have these interventions when they are truly necessary. i just hope our society and birth culture will become more judicious in the future. sharing your birth wisdom helps so thank you!

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