Most women have at least heard their friends or even their doctors mention “Pitocin” as something that might be used as part of the childbirth process. Pitocin is most commonly used to induce or speed up labor in pregnant women. While Pitocin can be beneficial in certain situations, there are potential risks associated with its use. You should always speak with your doctor about medical concerns, but today, we will discuss what Pitocin is, how it is used, and what risks may be associated with its use during childbirth.

If you or your child have suffered any type of birth-related injury in Virginia, and you believe that the use of Pitocin played a part in those injuries, it is important to consult with an experienced Virginia birth injury lawyer. You may be eligible to seek compensation, and our team is here to help you throughout the process.

What Is Pitocin?

Pitocin is a synthetically produced form of oxytocin, a hormone naturally produced by the body during labor and delivery. When produced naturally, oxytocin helps uterine muscles contract, which begins the process of pushing the baby out into the world. During childbirth, however, some women may not produce enough natural oxytocin to bring about labor efficiently. In situations such as these, doctors may recommend using Pitocin (or Oxytocin) as an assistive measure.

What Is Pitocin Used For?

Pitocin has several medical uses for pregnant women who are having difficulty with their labor or delivery process. In some cases, it can help start or speed up a stalled labor if the mother’s body is not producing enough natural oxytocin. This is known as induction of labor. If the mother has had previous C-sections or has issues with high-blood pressure, Pitocin can be helpful as well.  Depending on the circumstances, an induced labor can even be scheduled ahead of time with the intent of using Pitocin to get things moving.

Pitocin can also be used to help strengthen contractions that are too weak or too far apart. This is referred to as augmentation of labor. Finally, it may be used after delivery to reduce bleeding in the uterus by stimulating contractions in order to expel any remaining placenta tissue left behind in the uterus (known as placental retention).

What Are the Risks to the Baby and Mother?

In general, Pitocin has been deemed safe for both mother and baby when used under appropriate medical supervision. However, there are still potential risks associated with its use that should be taken into consideration prior to administration. For example, according to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), “high doses or improper administration of Pitocin have been known to cause fetal distress such as changes in heart rate and fetal oxygen levels” for babies. Any potential problems must be identified and addressed by the delivery team to ensure that the baby is safe.

It is also possible for Pitocin to cause the mother’s labor to progress too quickly. This can lead to contractions becoming much more difficult for the mother to manage. Contractions that are too intense could result in the rupture of the uterus—which could lead to excessive bleeding—or possible water intoxication due to high levels of sodium chloride found in Pitocin solutions. Pitocin can also have a dramatic effect on the mother’s blood pressure, which carries additional risks for her as well.

Contact a Virginia Induced Labor Injury Lawyer

If you or your baby suffered any type of harm as a result of Pitocin use during delivery, speak with an experienced Virginia birth injury attorney at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp. Our compassionate team will review your case and help you decide on the best course of action for moving forward. This approach helped us secure a $2.3 million verdict for our client who suffered permanent shoulder damage during a mismanaged delivery. Call (833) 997-1774 for a free consultation and case analysis today.