Labor Interventions: Is Pitocin Bad?

I had my one and only biological child 21 years ago.

I took childbirth classes and I felt pretty prepared. I mean, what I got out of the classes was 'if you breathe like this, you can manage labor without the big, bad epidural."

And as prepared as I was, I gave no thought to being induced at 39 weeks. I mean, hello! I was so tired and a summer with no air conditioning was not amusing. I was ready. I asked zero questions. I checked in, got hooked up to some Pitocin, and off we went... like a freight train. (May I just mention that I did the perfect breathing and it didn't make the pain go away? I strongly wanted a refund on that childbirth class.)

And you know what I told everyone afterward? 

Don't listen in those classes... breathing does NOT fix it.

AND

No matter what you do, don't be induced. Pitocin was created by Satan.

My birth story colored my view of a medication. My personal story- to which I had no other experience to compare it with- caused me to place the blame of my painful back labor on a drug that was used to assist in my delivery.


And I blamed Pitocin for YEARS.

As a doula, I hear the same thing at almost every prenatal meeting:

"I don't want to be induced because I don't want Pitocin."

In the beginning of my career as a doula, I probably would have nodded and said, "Amen, darlin'!" (Because, again, drug of Satan.) But I've learned some things in recent years. And my view of Pitocin has completely changed.

 

Pitocin is a synthetic form of oxytocin. It can cause labor to start and/or assist in strengthening contractions. It can also be used to assist in limiting bleeding after delivery. 

And it has its place in the birth world.

I've seen it used in a manner that has fit right into birth plans.

I've witnessed hospitals giving mothers the choice of when to turn it up (if at all).

I've seen mothers work their way through a Pitocin-induced labor without the desire for pain medication.

Pitocin is just one of many options that can be used to induce labor and/or encourage contractions to be more productive. Is it the right choice for you? For your baby, your birth, your situation? That is completely between you and your medical providers.


But it's not the big, scary monster I made it out to be for many years.

Andrea WillemsPNW Doulas