9 Things Every Laboring Woman Thinks When She's Getting Pitocin
If you've done your labor and delivery homework, you've probably heard of Pitocin. Pitocin is a synthetic version of oxytocin (also known as the love hormone). It's often given to a pregnant woman in order to induce labor or, as in my case, to jump-start contractions. It's one of several methods of what's known as labor augmentation, and it's often necessary when labor is stalled. Faced with labor that just isn't progressing, there are thoughts every laboring woman has when she's getting Pitocin. Trust me.
My water broke at 4:30 a.m. on my due date. I had a slow leak of amniotic fluid, so my midwife encouraged me to labor at home. By the time I was admitted to the hospital, I'd already been in labor for more than 12 hours. Everything was progressing slowly but surely, but by hour number 20 the pain was more than I was willing to bear. I asked for my epidural, and because it can slow down labor, the doctor threw in some Pitocin for good measure. At that point, though, all I cared about was getting the damn show on the road.
It worked, too, because nine hours later I was holding my sweet baby girl. That doesn't mean the following thoughts weren't racing through my mind at the time, though:
"Let's Get This Party Started"
If you're getting Pitocin to move things along, chances are you've been in labor for awhile. Let me tell you, the hospital is not a cool place to hang out (until you've had the baby, and then you never want to leave). It's really frustrating to continue to have painful contractions and know that you're not getting anywhere. So Pitocin? Hell yeah, let's do this!
"How Much Are You Putting In There?"
Most likely, you'll receive Pitocin intravenously. The line is a connected to a pump so that your practitioner can control how much you're getting. According to BabyCenter, your provider will start with a small dose and then titrate up until your uterus responds appropriately. However, because it's diluted in a saline solution, you won't know how much you're getting unless you ask.
"I Have A Need For Speed"
Pitocin can kickstart labor, yes, but it can also be used to speed it up. According to Verywell, there's only a small decrease (two hours) in the amount of time in labor thanks to Pitocin, but when you've passed the 24 hour mark, you'll do just about anything to shave some time off.
"I Feel Like A Science Experiment"
The amount of Pitocin you get will depend on a number of factors, including but certainly not limited to: the quality of your contractions thus far, how dilated your cervix is, and how you, your baby, and your uterus respond to the drug. The goal is to bring on contractions that will dilate your cervix and get your baby to descend without causing contractions that are too intense or too frequent. Strap yourself in for a little bit of guess and check.
"So I'm Part Machine Now"
Once you and your medical team have decided that Pitocin is the way to go, you'll have to be hooked up for continuous fetal monitoring. This means having two transducers strapped to your abdomen: one to monitor the baby's heartbeat and one to keep tabs on your contractions. This is done for your wellbeing and your baby's, but that doesn't mean you won't feel like the Terminator.
"What's That Beeping?"
The thing about being hooked up to machines is that they make lots of sounds. You can see when you're having a contraction and hear your baby's heartbeat. This is all well and good, but strange noises (or the lack of them) can really make you anxious, especially if you've watched one too many episodes of Grey's Anatomy.
"This IV Is Really Cramping My Style"
I don't know about the rest of you, but IV fluids make me so damn cold. I remember shivering (both from the IV and the contractions) and standing with my sister holding me from behind as I waited for the anesthesiologist. It's hard to move around with an IV, but if you're getting one so you can get an epidural, it's not like you're going anywhere anyway.
"I Should Have Tried Nipple Stimulation, Huh?"
"I'm Ready For My Baby Now"
If you're at the point in your labor where you're just so done, then a dose of Vitamin P may literally be what the doctor orders. You are physically and emotionally drained, and you just want to meet your baby. Try to remember that it's all worth it to hold your baby in your arms, however you get there.
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