Childbirth comes with a plethora of questions and concerns, particularly when labor isn’t progressing as expected. One might ponder scenarios such as a broken water with delayed contractions or a prolonged dilation phase stuck at 5 cm, with the term ‘Cesarean’ ominously floated by the doctor. Amid these uncertainties, one important query that may arise is ‘What Exactly Is Pitocin Like?’ Pitocin, a synthetic form of oxytocin, is often administered in these circumstances to augment or induce labor. So, let’s explore this critical aspect of modern obstetrics.
The hormone oxytocin is responsible for the contraction of the uterus and its subsequent delivery. You’d have enough cash to pay for a private delivery in a perfect world. Unfortunately, not every delivery goes smoothly. Because of this need, pitocin was developed to increase the body’s oxytocin production. It is the medicine of choice for inductions and augmentations (when a woman is already in labor but could use some assistance).
How Dangerous Is Pitocin, Exactly?
Many mothers-to-be claim that the pain of a pitocin-induced labor is much worse than that of a natural birth. We won’t get into an argument. I’ve experienced both natural and medical births, and I can’t say which was more challenging. I will state that pitocin is quite helpful in inducing ferocious labor. Although hard rockin’ work is more uncomfortable than soft rockin’ work, it is more effective in the long run. Pitocin is more challenging than natural labor because it induces more frequent and intense contractions in a shorter amount of time.
Take a look at it like this: To illustrate, picture a record player from yesteryear. Pitocin is like someone picking up the needle from the outside of the record and putting it on the inside, where the real action is (the label being your baby). If you were left to your own means, you might get there, but it might take a very long time, and your record might skip along the way, trapping you. Before you have your kid, the record needle must play the final track. Just the way things are.
Pitocin Induction: A Step-by-Step Guide
Unmedicated fluid (often a solution called Lactated Ringers—sort of a fortified sip of water) is infused through an intravenous line inserted into your arm. Your nurse will hang a second bag of pitocin-infused IV fluid. It is first pumped through a computerized pump at extremely low concentrations. Every 20 minutes or so, we increase the amount of pitocin your pump delivers in the hopes that you will begin having contractions every two to three minutes that last a full minute. The time it takes to induce labor in a woman varies greatly. It’s not uncommon for the patient to begin contracting as soon as we enter the room with the pitocin.
It usually takes about an hour to get things rolling. Cramps are the first sign of labor, which progresses to full-on contractions. We stop increasing the pitocin once an efficient labor pattern has developed (contractions occur at regular intervals, are becoming stronger, and are generating cervical change), but keep infusing it at whatever dose is required to perform the job.
If you experience too many contractions, we can lower your dose in the pump. For this reason, pitocin-induced contractions and fetal heart rate monitoring are closely monitored. We don’t want to stress you and the baby out by giving you too many contractions.
The same method applies to women who are already in labor but have hit a snag: administering pitocin intravenously using a pump, starting with a low dose and increasing it until it’s working. When performing an augmentation, we usually don’t need as much pitocin as when performing an induction.
Other Methods to Advance Labor
If labor isn’t progressing, what else can you do?
The rupture of the amniotic membranes frequently accelerates labor if the doctor or nurse thinks the baby’s head is low enough in the pelvis and close enough to the cervix. Movement breaks like standing and walking might boost productivity as well.
Getting an epidural can be a powerful tool to ease pelvic muscle tension and shorten the duration of labor. A cesarean section is the most likely outcome if all other labor aids are ineffective and time is of the essence (due to infection, exhaustion, or fetal distress). When a child has trouble exiting the womb the traditional way, an open delivery may be necessary. It’s unpopular, yet preferable to the alternative.
I think many women agree to inductions for convenience, and then they wind up unprepared to give birth to a kid who isn’t quite ready. No amount of Pitocin will cause their cervix to dilate; it simply wasn’t ready. They could have improved their chances of having a vaginal birth by waiting until their due date or for spontaneous labor to begin.
Thankfully, pitocin can be used to induce labor when it’s medically necessary. Inducing labor is okay when there is a strong social reason to do so, like in the case of a recent patient whose husband was being sent to Iraq and would miss the birth. Wait for good, old-fashioned labor if at all feasible, and weigh your options. A shot of vitamin P could be just what the doctor prescribed if that isn’t working.
It’s not easy work, any way you slice it. That’s why it’s referred to as “labor” and not “picnic.”