What pitocin is and isn't — The Bump
Natural Birth

What pitocin is and isn't

Hello, I'd like to just post my whole birth story but I think I will just break it into helpful parts as people click based on search terms for specific concerns.  I'm not sure how well read each reader will be on this board.  Has everyone in this category seen the Ricki Lake "Business of Being Born" documentary?  If so, you would be nervous about taking anything... We thought all drugs were the devil when we went in!  With pitocin only, it is still considered a natural birth because it doesn't nothing to alleviate pain.  It's a synthetic hormone akin to oxytocin that helps the laboring process along by making your contractions harder, longer, and closer together.  Regardless of your birth, the hospital will want to administer it to you afterwards to help stop bleeding and to help your uterus contract back to its normal size.

To explain the point of view about taking it during labor:
Based on the documentary, it says to avoid ALL interventions so that you don't spiral into needing more and more up to a C-section.  Pitocin helps you to get the baby out by adding to your body's own levels of oxytocin... BUT when given in conjunction with an epidural it can slow the effects of it down and cause the doctors to keep upping the doses leading the baby to go into distress with harder-pressing contractions.  You don't feel the pressing as much because of the epidural, but your baby does, and if the heart-rate drops for too long, the baby is considered "in distress" and thereby leads to a cesarean delivery.         

That's the main point we gleaned from the film, so we were REALLY nervous when the nurses kept urging us to take pitocin.
Timing is everything and circumstance is everything. I admire anyone on here even investigating about natural births because it means you are trying to give your baby the best start possible and willing to do the work (hence, "labor"!).  Interventions for intervention sake are the problem, but when truly needed- they help.  I think taking pitocin right off the bat can make things more painful and difficult for a longer periods  However, I had already been pushing med-free for 3 hours and the baby's head wasn't descending at all even though I was fully dilated at this point.  (very frustrating!)  My contractions were too weak and too irregular... a true need for pitcoin. 

For me, it didn't make it hurt noticeably more because I had already gotten used to contractions as I'd been to the point of pushing for awhile and was eager to make some actual progress.  Also, I think the timing was crucial because if you take it early, and you are not fully dilated, you don't get to push yet.  It can make the experience much more painful and frustrating.  Even with a boost from the pitocin, mindset is key!  You will feel the pain a long with your baby which will make you more conscious of what's happening and they will also remind you to belly breath for you baby after each push.  You do need to be prepared with some breathing techniques and a focus plan.  Staying calm and breathing are both so important that I can't emphasize that enough.  

Personally, I would not go in with the mindset 100% anything.  You may in fact need an intervention.  Remember that you are in control and the hospital cannot force you to do anything- they are there to help you.  Discuss with your husband a code word for when you've truly had enough and know in your heart what "giving it your all" really means to you.  No matter what happens, if you've left it all on the laboring table and done your best, I think you will be happy with the results whatever the outcome.  Anyways, that's my two cents.

-Debra =)
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