This article, found on the birth routes site, is about the damaging affects of pitocin, a drug routinely used by obstetricians in hospital birthing for inductions and augmentation of labor (speeding it up). Pitocin is specifically only approved by the FDA when medically indicated. I have added an important note at the end of the article about the emotional and psychological affects of this drug, which is rarely talked about. Here is the web site address:
May 30, 2010
Pitocin not approved by the FDA for elective (or non-medical inductions).
PITOCIN (oxytocin) Mnfr: MONARCH PHARMACEUTICALS, INC
PITOCIN has been approved by the FDA for the medical induction and stimulation of labor. Pitocin has not approved for the elective induction or stimulation of labor.
Source: FDA APPROVED OBSTETRICS DRUGS: THEIR EFFECTS ON MOTHER AND BABY
What does this mean? That the common use of Pitocin in hospitals for inducing a mother post dates (without medical reason) is highly dangerous. The risks are too high for a non-medical induction. The use of pitocin in labor to ‘speed things up’ is not FDA approved. You can refuse pitocin augmentation unless it is for a medically indicated reason. It should not be used just because you are over your ‘due’ date or because its inconvenient to wait for baby to have his/her own timing, or for your labor to progress at its natural pace. This drug has consequences that medical professionals know nothing about.
“Oxytocin crosses the placenta and enters the blood and brain of the fetus within seconds or minutes. There appears to be a correlation between fetal exposure to oxytocin and autism in the exposed offspring.”
The manufacturer of oxytocin warns the provider in the package insert:
“Maternal deaths due to hypertensive episodes, subarachnoid hemorrhage, rupture of the uterus, fetal deaths and permanent CNS or brain damage of the infant due to various causes have been reported to be associated with the use of parenteral oxytocic drugs for induction of labor or for augmentation in the first and second stages of labor.”
Because oxytocin is used so commonly to stimulate labor we note here that, in addition to the more benign effects of uterine stimulants, such as nausea and vomiting, the manufacturer of Pitocin (oxytocin) points out in its package insert that oxytocin can cause:
(a) maternal hypertensive episodes (abnormally high blood pressure)
(b) subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding in area surrounding spinal cord)
(c) anaphylactic reaction (exaggerated allergic reaction)
(d) postpartum hemorrhage (uterine hemorrhage following birth)
(e) cardiac arrhythmias (non-normal heart rate)
(f) fatal afibrinogenemia (loss of blood clotting fibrin)
(g) premature ventricular contraction (non-normal heart function)
(h) pelvic hematoma (blood clot in the pelvic region)
(i) uterine hypertonicity (excessive uterine muscle tone)
(j) uterine spasm (violent, distorted contraction of the uterus)
(k) tetanic contractions (spasmodic uterine contractions)
(l) uterine rupture
(m) increased blood loss
(n) convulsions (violent, involuntary muscle contraction(s).
(o) coma (unconsciousness that cannot be aroused)
(p) fatal oxytocin-induced water intoxication (undue retention of water marked by vomiting, depression of temperature convulsions, and coma and may end in death.
Fetal and Newborn Effects
The following adverse effects of maternally administered oxytocin have been reported in the fetus or infant:
(a) bradycardia (slow fetal heart rate)
(b) premature ventricular contractions and other arrhythmias (non-normal heart function)
(c) low 5 minute Apgar scores (non-physiologic neurologic evaluation)
(d) neonatal jaundice (excess bilirubin in the blood of the neonate.
(e) neonatal retinal hemorrhage (hemorrhage within the innermost covering of the eyeball)
(f) permanent central nervous system or brain damage
(g) fetal death
“Uterine stimulants which foreshorten the oxygen-replenishing intervals between contractions, by making the contractions too long, too strong, or too close together, increase the likelihood that fetal brain cells will die.
The situation is analogous to holding an infant under the surface of the water, allowing the infant to come to the surface to gasp for air, but not to breathe. All of these effects increase the possibility of neurologic insult to the fetus. No one really knows how often these adverse effects occur, because there is no law or regulation in any country that requires the doctor to report an adverse drug reaction to the FDA.
These findings underscore the importance of the midwife managing the woman’s labor in a way that will avoid the need for Pitocin and the pain relieving drugs that are often administered to help the woman cope with the contractions intensified by Pitocin.
DELAYED LONG TERM EFFECTS: There have been no adequate and well-controlled studies to determine the delayed, long-term effects of Pitocin on pregnant women, or on the neurologic, as well as general, development of children exposed to Pitocin in utero or during lactation.”
Here is manufacturers insert including warnings and uses of Pitocin.
Were you aware that the drug so commonly used on pregnant women without medical indication is not FDA approved?
The link to the FDA page: http://www.aimsusa.org/obstetricdrugs.htm
And the manufacturers insert is here…
Note from Karen on non-medically indicated use of Pitocin: This article doesn’t talk about the emotional and psychological affects of pitocin on babies. Within medical birthing we have lost contact with the importance of the natural rhythms of birth and how vitally they are connected to the natural daily rhythms of life. Being born without medical interference gives us a very important imprints for life. When we successfully navigate our own birth we feel “I can do it!” Navigating through our birth, both drug and intervention free, provides us with important imprints; birth is a very important transition that sets us up for life.
During natural labor a contraction builds increasing in intensity, it peaks, and then comes down the other side. There is a natural space in between each contraction in which both mother and baby can rest and gather their strength for the next wave. This space is very important for rest and resourcing during labor. When pitocin is administered this natural cycle is lost, and contractions are unrelenting, one after the other, with no rest. This is what makes it both more painful for the birthing mother, and traumatic for baby. Because this kind of laboring is more painful, mom will often be offered more drugs to kill the pain of the effects of the first drug! It can also be exhausting and lead to the medical term “Failure to Progress”.
Kids born with pitocin often have an unrelenting way of being in the world. The drug imprints into their nervous system. Every drug has its own character and job to do, pitocin is about speeding up, don’t rest, and go, go, go. This can be exhausting for the child and his parents, and is an expression of the drug and birth imprint. It can feel like someone’s coming at you, with no space for anything else to happen. It has a rev in it too, a fast moving energy. Drugs leave imprints that are an expression of both the character of the drug, and the way it expresses it self and impacts the recipients. They impact our nervous systems, and affect our perceptions of what life is about. Could it be that there is a link between this drug and ADHD/ADD too?? We have to understand that we are affecting our baby’s nervous systems with birthing drugs, and we are telling them “this is what life is”. Trusting our mothers and baby’s to know how to birth, and get born, are truly valuable imprints to offer to birthing diads. Babies are having their own experience, and they are very active in their birth. Drugs are affecting them a lot, and often get in the way of their sense of achievement, momentum, and “I can do it!”
Pitocin also interferes with the natural healthy imprinting that occurs in birthing. It affects the way our children negotiate transitions, which is a very crucial part of daily life. We are negotiating transitions all the time, getting up, leaving the house, going to school, coming home, going to sleep, moving from one activity to another, so this is very important. As birth is a major transition, how we are birthed has a huge affect on the way we handle transitions. Your child may have a tough time navigating transitions if they had pitocin in their birth. If a mother is induced with pitocin she will often end up with many other often non-medically indicated interventions, often culminating in a c-section. Induction increases your chances of a c-section because the earlier in your labor that you are in the hospital, the more medical interventions you are likely to have, and the more likely you are to end up in the ‘failure to progress’ (or failure to wait as one of my clients wisely called it) medical category which often leads to c-section. These all add to the birth imprints and can cause trauma for mother and baby, and take birthing out of their hands.
Please consider refusing pitocin unless clearly medically indicated. Make sure that you know what medically indicated means if you are venturing into a medical environment for your birthing, because many drugs and interventions are routinely offered when not needed at all. Remember that any drug or intervention you say ‘yes’ to is going to have a big impact on your baby too, and on your experience of having an empowering birth. Be very cautious about drugs offered for birthing. When medical interventions are really needed, they are great! It is however important to understand that if you are going into hospital to have your baby, that you are going to constantly be offered interventions and drugs. Hospital birthing is not about supporting the natural timing and rhythm of birthing for the mother and baby. The doctor will usually be in charge, not you. Doctors are often speeding things up for their own convenience and scheduling.
It takes a lot of research and preparation to keep your birth natural and drug-free once you enter the hospital. This can be hard work to add to the work of childbirth, although it can be done, and its most important to have good support for this. Having a doula can really help if you wish to be in the hospital and have an intervention free birth. Do consider a birthing center if you have one near you, they are a great alternative if you don’t feel safe at home with a midwife and doula, but want to avoid a medical birth with drugs and medical interventions. Happy birthing!
© 2016 Karen Melton
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