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Pitocin can cause a tumultuous, difficult labor and tetanic contractions, rupture of the uterus and dehiscence of a uterine scar, lacerations of the cervix, retained placenta, or postpartum hemorrhage. Postpartum perineal and pelvic floor pain is increased as a result of augmented uterine contractions. Fetal complications might include fetal asphyxia and neonatal hypoxia, physical injury, and neonatal jaundice. The use of Pitocin also might be a factor in cerebral palsy, due to oxygen deprivation, and autism in the child.
At the 1996 annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Eric Hollander of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York presented a theory that linked autism with Pitocininduced labors. He put forward the idea that Pitocin interferes with the newborn’s oxytocin system that results in the social disabilities of autism. When he gave autistic children oxytocin, it made some of them four times more talkative and twice as happy, although some patients did not respond.
Consider how the heightened, augmented uterine contractions associated with Pitocin might impact the soft fetal cranium, and the possible injurious effect on the cranio-sacral system that could result.
Pitocin was first synthesized in 1953, and became available for use two years later. By 1974, it was an established medical fact that its failure rate was 40 to 50 percent. In 1978, an FDA advisory committee removed its approval of Pitocin for the elective induction of labor. Interestingly, the drug never was approved by the FDA for use in augmenting labor.
Safe Alternatives for Labor While not all women and their babies are harmed by the use of Pitocin, there are effective, natural ways to coax labor without risk. Sex always has been a recognized method of starting labor. Orgasms cause the release of oxytocin that might initiate the onset of labor in late pregnancy. Sperm contains prostaglandins that encourage the cervix to ripen. There are numerous other ways to induce labor, as well. Spicy foods, long walks, nipple stimulation, the use of certain herbs (including blue cohosh*), castor oil, acupuncture, massage, and general relaxation techniques might all be effective in initiating labor without the harmful side-effects of Pitocin.
Labor is a complex physiological function that begins with the harmonious synchronicity of the fetus, mother, and placenta. Any intervention of these essential participants offsets the balance and rhythm of labor. Babies, like fruit, ripen in their own time. The best way to promote a healthy pregnancy, labor, and birth is to let the forces of nature work at their own pace.
* Excessive amounts of blue cohosh can raise maternal blood pressure to dangerous levels and might have an overdosing effect on the baby. A naturopath or herbalist should be consulted before recommending this or any herb to pregnant clients.
About the Author:
Elaine Stillerman received her New York State massage license in 1978 and began her pioneering prenatal massage work in 1980. She is the developer and instructor of the professional certification workshop MotherMassage and the author of four books: Mother Massage (Dell, 1992), The Encyclopedia of Bodywork (Facts On File, 1996), Prenatal Massage: A Textbook of Pregnancy, Labor, and Postpartum Bodywork (Mosby, 2008), and Modalities for Massage and Bodywork (Mosby, 2009). www.MotherMassage.net.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #22.
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