Thursday, June 6, 2013

pitocin warning

Pitocin is overused.

It is a brand of oxytocin that doctors will use to either start contractions, or keep the ones you've got going.  In the business-world of a hospital, it is an invaluable tool for managing an event that does not work on a dependable time clock.

But you see, it's so important that we don't forget that birth is not on a time clock.  Of course averages have been measured, but who is really average?  Your body is your body, and its uniqueness combined with that of your baby results in a truly singular birth that is far from average.

It is normal for labor to pause.  In fact, it's a coping mechanism.  If you were a cave woman back in the day, laboring to bring your baby into the world and suddenly -- ack! -- a saber-toothed tiger interrupts your focus.  What would you do?  Adrenaline would kick in, oxytocin would all but stop, blood flow would leave your uterus and shoot out to your appendages to get you the crap out of there.

That hasn't changed today.  If you're stressed and that saber-toothed tiger waltzes in the room in the form of your doctor, mother-in-law, or some bizarre point in labor that you've always dreaded, you're more than likely to stall out.  It's instinct.  It's survival.

So if your doctors start throwing out the word pitocin, first ask, "Is this an emergency?"  And if the answer is no, then give yourself some time.  Relax.  Take a deep breath.  Find a way to defeat that tiger and let your body continue doing it's thing.

Not only is pitocin harder on you (inhuman contractions on a very human uterus), there are also studies finally being done on pitocin's effects on your baby.  There are some.  ACOG just released a statement about it:

Now don't fret, of course there are risks no matter what kind of birth you have.  Do your research, have an intelligent conversation with your partner, doctor, and support people.  You need to feel good about what you experience.  Your ability to care for that baby after he or she arrives will trump any experience your baby had during birth.