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Induction describes a situation in which a pregnant woman s labor is artificially started. This can be done through the manual breaking of her bag of waters, with herbs, with medications, or a combination of these. Pitocin is the drug that most doctors turn to for labor induction. This synthetic version of the hormone oxytocin is delivered to the mother through an IV to bring on contractions.

Why Pitocin?

Your doctor may suggest labor induction with Pitocin, sometimes combined with the artificial rupture of your membranes, if you have gone overdue. It is generally recognized that women who have gone past 42 weeks have a lager risk of stillbirth, probably because the placenta can stop functioning after a certain gestational length. If your waters broke but you are not showing any signs of labor, you may also be induced. And in case of pre-eclampsia or other pregnancy complications that require your baby s immediate birth, induction with Pitocin may be preferred over a cesarean section at times. Pitocin can also be helpful for women who are already in labor but whose labor is progressing extremely slowly, or those who started labor and then stopped having contractions, especially if their water is already broken. This is referred to as labor augmentation in other words, Pitocin speeds your labor up.

What to expect

When you start Pitocin, you will probably first be given a low dose. Your healthcare team can then increase that dose later or and as needed. No matter what dose you start on, you can expect contractions to start soon after you were given the drug through your IV. Pitocin does lead to a higher chance of fetal distress, and the consensus is that Pitocin-induced contractions are more painful than the natural version. You may want to see how well you cope with the pain of induced labor. If it turns out to be very unpleasant or simply too much to handle, epidural anesthesia is the most effective pain relief method.

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