Pitocin: Friend or Foe?

Assumption: Pitocin is good for labor because it speeds things up, making birth more pleasant and less dangerous for everyone.

While it may speed labor, birth is harder and more dangerous when synthetic oxytocin is used.  This study from New Zealand measures the use of synthetic oxytocin and the outcomes of births that use it versus births that do not use it.  The study shows a marked increase in the need for/use of pain killers, instrumental delivery like vacuum and forceps, and cesarean surgery.  There was also an increase in neonatal morbidity in cases where synthetic oxytocin was used.


My Views:
I understand that there are very good reasons to use Pitocin to induce or augment labor.  Situations like these are not the norm, however.  Unfortunately, many low-risk women with no medical problems are being induced for the sake of convenience.  There is a reason that studies of birth certificates show a huge discrepancy between births occurring Monday through Friday during “work hours” and those occurring on weekends and “after hours.”  If you have a weekend baby, you are in the minority!  I think the medical community is starting to see the problems these early scheduled inductions are causing and is slowly shifting inductions from 38-40 weeks to 41 weeks, which is a good start.  Still, I feel that women are not told of the risks they are taking by not waiting for labor to start (or continue) on its own.