There is an orchestra of hormones that do a beautiful dance, that ebb and flow depending on where a women is in her labor and birth. All of these hormones are perfectly placed to help this woman bring her new baby into this world. She doesn’t have to tell her body what to do, it intelligently and innately knows. However, times changed when the medical system started to decide when a woman was ready to give birth, rather than allowing the woman to trust her own body’s innate instincts.
Dr. Sarah J Buckley, a specialist in pregnancy, birth and pediatrics, speaks a lot about the medicalization of birth. She describes a conflict between a woman's own innate desires and the “technology-does-it-better” approach seen in the majority of hospitals. She points out that “women must be involved in the decision making process because those who are not may have a greater instance of hurt, disappointment and postpartum depression.” 2
The WHO (World Health Organization) produced a report that outlined the appropriate amount of technologies used for birth, and one fact was about induction of labor such as using a drug called Pitocin. The WHO states that “ No geographic region should have an incidence of induced labor great than 10%.” 2 However official U.S. figures state a induction rate has more than doubled from 1990 to 2005 from a rate of 9.3% to a 22.3%!1 That is almost 1 in 4 women being induced and some think that the amount of induction is actually underreported. 3
There is no denying that there are times where medical intervention is necessary however it should be a last resort not a first option. I’m not trying to debate whether or not induction with pitocin is sometimes necessary but whether the frequency of its use today, specifically in hospital births, is justified and in the best interest of both mama and baby.
With all aspects of birth, couples need to really look at the balance between the benefits and risks especially with an otherwise healthy mama and baby.
There are a number of reasons why a doctor will use pitocin with a pregnant mama.2 Two main reasons are to:
- Initiate Labor
- Accelerate or Augment Labor
The problem with synthetically initiating or augmenting labor is that it produces a synthetic or abnormal labor. Pitocin role is to mimic the naturally occurring hormone oxytocin which is key in helping mama innately know how to give birth. It is crucial to understand that synthetic oxytocin (aka Pitocin) is not the same as that of natural oxytocin produced by a laboring mama. Some of the common differences seen when Pitocin is administered are:1
- Contractions are longer
- Contractions are more forceful
- Contractions are much closer together
- Increase the risk of other interventions used in the birthing process
- Increased risk of postpartum hemorrhage
- Increase risk of oxygen deprivation in newborn
All of these side effects make an unnatural environment for a mom to bring a new baby into the world and pose future risks for both baby and mom. The big question, after seeing these side effects, is realizing even though getting induced via pitocin is considered common does NOT mean that it is normal. The body is so intelligent and as females we have the innate ability to know what to do at the time of birth.There is a specific purpose and rhythm to each contraction and hormone in a laboring mama which help both mom and baby during birth. Even though there are situations where the use of pitocin may be necessary,evidence and research show that the use of pitocin comes with inherent side effects and risks and should be a last resort not a common first option in an otherwise uncomplicated birth.
With all the information we have today in regards to birth, it can be very overwhelming for a new mom. Here at Birthfit we aim to be your support team, so you can ask all the tough questions and really prepare your mind, body and soul to bring your new baby into this world.
- Buckley s. Gentle Birth, gentle mothering: a doctor’s guide to natural childbirth and early parenting choices. Celestial Arts 2009. Pp.110
- Barham-Floreani, Jennifer. Well Adjusted Babies: A Chiropractic Guide for holistic Parenting from Pregnancy through to Early Childhood. Second ed. Melbourne, Vic.: Vitality Productions, 2009. Print. pages 226-231
- Hamilton, B.E., Martin, J.A., Osterman, M.J.K., Curtin, S.C., & Mathews, T.J. (2015 December 23). Births: Final Data for 2014. National Vital Statistics Reports, 64)12)