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Childbirth and Pitocin: Know Your Facts

Updated on January 8, 2014

The Business of Being Born

As an early childhood educator, I have always had a interest in learning more about prenatal care and birth. After watching "The Business of Being Born", a documentary with Ricki Lake, I became very interested in researching Pitocin.

During the documentary, I learned that Pitocin is regularly given to women to speed up their labor, many times without the woman even knowing. Pitocin is a very routine aspect of labor in America. However, after my research I learned that it is not only unnecessary but it is also negatively affecting women's birth experiences.


What is Pitocin?

Pitocin is a drug that is synthetically made to simulate the hormone oxytocin. In a woman's body oxytocin is the hormone that produces contractions in her uterus.

Pitocin is given to start or sped up contractions. While, sometimes it is medically necessary there is no doubt that Pitocin is wildly overused.

Once a woman is given Pitocin her contraction increase dramatically in strength.

Pitocin Leads to Other Medical Interventions

When a woman is given Pitocin, whether is is medically necessary or not, they are more likely to need additional medical interventions.

Now that a woman is given synthetic oxytocin, her contractions are more frequent and painful. She is more likely, to need or request an epidural because of this. Now, she has given up her ability to walk around to speed up the labor process. Her contractions could be too close and too fast because of the flow of Pitocin. This could lead to a distressed baby, which could lead to an emergency Csesarian Section (C-Section). In addition, it could also lead to complications for the mother's health.

While this may seem like a dramatized chain of events, once medical intervention is given to the woman you take away her body's natural skills and abilities. These natural abilities are necessary if you want to have little medical intervention in your birthing experience.


Negative Side Effects

For Mothers


Nausea & Vomiting

Ruptured Uterus

Tears in the Cervix

Increased Heart Rate

Increased Chance for Emergency C-Section


Fetal Distress

Decreased Heart Rate in Baby

Birthing Options

Your birth is your experience. You are in control. You have the right to question medical personnel and ask for reasons behind their interventions and to request alternative interventions.

Here are some different birthing experiences that you may prefer over a traditional hospital birth

Maternity Suites- Some hospitals are now offering maternity suites. This is a room where you will stay for pre-natal care, your baby's birth, and post-natal care. You will be able to stay in the same room for your entire hospital stay. There is usually a cot or a pull out couch available for your significant other to stay with you as well.

In-Hospital Birthing Center- Some hospitals have birthing centers. Birthing centers in hospitals typically look more "homey". In addition, they usually have birthing tubs and other birthing tools (balls, bars, etc.) This is a nice in-between for someone who feels more comfortable having nearby medical equipment incase an emergency occurs.

Birthing Centers- Birthing Centers are stand-alone buildings not inside a hospital. They look like a home. It is a relaxed environment where you will deliver your baby. Birthing Centers are usually run by Midwives.

Midwives- Midwives are childbirth specialist. They are certified in prenatal, birth and postnatal care. Most Midwives are Certified Nurse midwives. Certified Nursing Midwives have a nursing license in addition they trained in Midwifery. Most Midwives practice in hospitals, while others practice in birthing centers or home births.

Doulas- A doula is a person who supports the woman during prenatal care, birth, and/or in postnatal care. While the mother's significant other is usually the main support system; they could easily become tired after a long birth or overwhelmed with any decisions that might need to be made. A doula is there to help support the woman, explain her options and to be her voice.


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