For some women, labor is marked by their water breaking followed by hours of labor and finally the birth of their babies. For other women, labor doesn’t seem to start on its own, which causes the need to induce labor. One of the main ways doctors induce labor is through labor-inducing drugs, with one of the most common drugs being Pitocin.
What Is Pitocin?
Pitocin is a synthetic version of the drug oxytocin, which is the substance released by the body during childbirth to cause uterine contractions. When labor doesn’t start on its own and a woman is past her due date, or if labor stops progressing, the use of Pitocin can help a woman’s body produce contractions. Unfortunately, it is an artificial way to start labor, which has its downfalls.
By administering Pitocin, a woman will have more contractions and stronger contractions than what her body would normally produce. In fact, Pitocin-induced contractions are actually very intense and can cause a baby to suffer a reduced flow of oxygen as a result of the intense contractions. Consequently, serious injuries such as head trauma and brain injuries can occur. This is why giving a woman Pitocin needs to only be done when medically necessary.
The Use of Pitocin in Birthing Centers
Unfortunately, doctors frequently use Pitocin to speed up deliveries without a real medical reason, failing to take into consideration that a baby may suffer the effects of decreased oxygen. Although many hospitals routinely use Pitocin in their birthing centers, it doesn’t make it safe. In fact, contractions can come closer together, be more painful, and last longer—posing serious hazards for the mother and baby.
Some hazards of Pitocin for a mother include:
- Placenta separation
- Uterine rupture
- Cervical laceration
Some hazards of Pitocin for the baby include:
- Fetal distress
- Asphyxia and hypoxia (lack of oxygen)
- Brain damage
- Cerebral palsy
If a nurse, doctor, or other hospital worker was negligent and gave you this drug without carefully monitoring the intensity of your contractions and you or your baby were injured, you may have a legal claim. Pitocin birth injuries are unnecessary injuries that occur due to medical negligence.
For help holding the doctor or hospital accountable for your injuries, please call us to discuss your potential claim at 703-721-4233. We would be honored to provide you with a free consultation and a free copy of our book, Do I Have a Case? A Patient’s Guide to Virginia Medical Negligence Law.