Is Pitocin A Curse Word?

After watching the documentary, “The Business of Being Born”, I knew that I wanted to have a natural birth. For my first two births, I declined all medications and my daughters were born in bathtubs. My son was a different story. With my son, my midwife was very concerned about the risk of infection because my water broke prematurely, and my contractions eventually stopped after several hours. After trying several natural interventions, she recommended Pitocin.

Pitocin is very commonly administered to pregnant women in the hospital. In my particular case, my midwife wanted me to take Pitocin so that my contractions would be consistent and strong. Truth be told, when I began brainstorming for ideas for this blog post, I originally intended to communicate that Pitocin is not as dangerous as some people believe it to be. Ironically, after I looked at the drug label, I decided that my original thought was incomplete and somewhat inaccurate. Here are the adverse events that have been reported with the use of Pitocin. This information can be found on DailyMed (a website created by the U.S. National Library of Medicine).

Adverse Events for the Mother

  1. Severe allergic reaction
  2. Bleeding after birth
  3. Abnormal heartbeat
  4. Fatal blood clotting abnormality
  5. Nausea
  6. Vomiting
  7. Pelvic bruising
  8. Bleeding in the head
  9. Episodes of high blood pressure
  10. Rupture of the uterus
  11. Fatal water intoxication

Adverse Events for the Baby

  1. Slow heart rate
  2. Low Apgar scores at five minutes (the Apgar score indicates how healthy the baby is at birth)
  3. Abnormal heartbeat
  4. Jaundice (yellowing of the skin/eyes)
  5. Permanent central nervous system or brain damage
  6. Eye bleeding
  7. Seizures
  8. Death

This might sound rather absurd and dramatic, but everytime my midwife mentioned the word Pitocin, it sounded like she was cursing at me. To me, the administration of Pitocin during labor was synonymous with more labor pain and complications for both my baby and me. Unfortunately, I think that the above list of adverse events validates some of my fears. However, in the end, I did receive Pitocin for a short time and at a very low dose. Thankfully, my baby was super healthy and we both recovered well from the birth!

Did the birth with Pitocin hurt more than the other two natural births? Yes, but keep in mind that my natural births were in water; water helps to alleviate some of the labor pain. After reading about the reported adverse events of Pitocin, do I regret my decision to have Pitocin during labor? No, due to my circumstances, the benefits of a low dose of Pitocin outweighed the risks of the drug.

To moms out there, this post is mostly for you. Whether you are interested in a natural birth or a medicated birth, please know that you have options; I hope that you will educate yourselves so that you can make the best choices for you and your baby.

Dear Mom, whether you choose a natural birth or a medicated birth, you are amazing for bringing life into this world!

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Six Reasons Why I Would Choose A Natural Birth Again

I know that not everyone is a fan of Natural Birthing. But if you have any interest, I hope that you will consider it. My first two birth experiences were natural while the last one required some interventions. If I had another child, I would definitely choose an easier and less painful Natural Birth!

Our Midwife was with us from start to finish.

Our Nurse Midwife was with us from the time that we arrived in the hospital until after the baby was born and assessed. Obstetricians often spend a lot less time with their patients.

I was allowed to eat and drink.

A chocolate granola bar gave me an extra surge of energy right before I had to push my baby out. I can’t imagine going through childbirth without food and water!

I was allowed to labor in any position that was comfortable for me.

I switched from standing in a shower, to a birthing ball, to lying on my side, to different positions in the birthing tub. At one point, I plopped myself down on the bed and put my butt in the air–this position provided some comfort when I felt like my butt was about to explode.

My water births provided natural pain relief.

I gave birth to my first two babies in a tub of soothing, warm water. The last birth was not in water and it hurt a lot more.

I needed very few medical interventions.

For my first two babies, I did not need any medications, intravenous line, forceps, vacuum, or stitches. For my last baby, I had a monitor on my belly, an intravenous line, and Pitocin. The first two Natural Births were faster, easier and less painful.

My babies were able to breastfeed straight out of the womb.

My babies were born healthy, alert, and hungry. I offered them some milk and they all latched on within a minute!

Dear Mama, no matter what happens during your birth experience, you are amazing!

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I Want To Quit

The Temptation to Quit Will Become Greatest Just Before You Are About To Succeed

-Chinese proverb

When I heard this quote from my business mentor, my mind immediately thought of childbirth. Right before a mom has to push her baby out, she goes through a stage called TRANSITION. This is a very intense stage of labor when moms feel out of control and want to quit. According to my Bradley birth instructor, this is when a lot of moms opt for pain medication.

When I first learned about this stage of childbirth, I was really scared of it. But when I was in the midst of it, I was relieved because I knew that I would soon hold my baby and I knew that moment would be worth the diet restrictions, stretched out clothes, waddling, constant need to pee, consistent congestion, frequent visits to the midwife, skin rashes, (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy) stares from strangers, (is it just me or does everyone stare at the pregnant lady?) stretch marks, intolerable morning sickness that lasted all day for seven plus weeks, and physical pain of childbirth.

My mentor also said that if you haven’t felt like quitting yet, you probably aren’t working hard enough. So, if you have any goals–health, business, financial, or any other kinds of goals–and you feel like quitting, congratulations! Your efforts are moving you in the right direction. It is almost time to hold your metaphorical baby. Just don’t give up!

14 Tips for a Natural Birth

The births of my three beautiful children were very different from the traditional American birth experiences that you see in the movies. For starters, as opposed to just the allowance of ice chips, I was permitted to eat food and drink any kind of beverage while I was in labor. In contrast to the traditional supine position on the hospital bed, I labored in any position that was most comfortable for me. My first two babies were born in a tub of water, no interventions were needed and I did not take any medication. My third baby was born while I was in a hands and knees position on the hospital bed.

For this particular post, I will not go into the research and the reasons why I believe that a natural birth is beneficial for babies. You might not want a natural birth, and that’s okay! For those that are interested, I hope that these 14 tips will empower you to have the birthing experience that you desire!

  1. Interview your provider. Try to find a compassionate provider that will help you have the birth that you desire.
  2. Educate yourself. Read birthing books by Ina May Gaskin and watch “The Business of Being Born.”
  3. Eat well. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about foods to eat and foods to avoid.
  4. Take a full, daily dose of supplements (prenatal multivitamin, DHA and probiotic). Ensure that your supplements are high-quality and do not contain GMOs. (See your healthcare provider for guidance.)
  5. Exercise. Research shows that exercise is great for mom and baby. Prenatal yoga was wonderful for my morning sickness. (See your healthcare provider for guidance.)
  6. Encourage your partner’s involvement. My husband attended Bradley classes with me and was ready and willing to make some tough decisions with me during the birth of our third child.
  7. Hire a doula. A doula can be a very helpful and calming person that can act as another advocate for you in the hospital.
  8. Take a local Bradley class. This 12-week class will prepare you very well for a natural birth. The class will teach you about the birthing process, nutrition, prenatal exercises, relaxation techniques, birthing techniques, postpartum information, etc. Most couples that take this class have natural births.
  9. Write a birth plan. With your partner, talk about what the perfect birth looks like to both of you. Write down your plan and discuss your plan with your provider.
  10. Labor at home for as long as you can. If possible, do not go to the hospital or birthing center until you and your provider agree that it is an optimal time to go. It is more comfortable to labor at home. If possible, opt for a home birth!
  11. Play some soothing music. In my third trimester, my husband uploaded some relaxing Hawaiian music into his phone and played it during birth.
  12. Practice and use relaxation techniques. During labor, it really helped me to close my eyes and visualize myself on the beach with my family.
  13. Count during contractions! The discomfort of a contraction peaks at approximately 30 seconds and lasts for approximately 60 seconds. When my contractions started to get stronger, I started to count the seconds. Every time I reached 30 seconds, I felt encouraged because I knew that the worst part of the contraction was likely over. This helped tremendously!
  14. Don’t expend unnecessary energy. When it is time to push the baby out, remember that your body automatically does some of the work on its own. Therefore, don’t think that you have to push so hard that your eyes pop out. When the time comes, follow your provider’s instruction.

No matter what happens during your birth experience, I hope that you will enjoy your new, precious baby blessing! What do you think of natural birthing?

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This post was originally published on September 24, 2018 and updated on June 30, 2019.