|Baby boy after birth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
First, I must add this caveat: Pitocin (synthetic oxytocin) can be life-saving if a woman is hemorrhaging after birth. An induction of labor can allow a healthy vaginal birth where complications make it dangerous or deadly to wait for labor to begin naturally.
Within the framework of my personal experiences, there is no room at all within my personal body for drugs to speed up childbirth. For myself, I would rather have a c-section in case of complications. I absolutely understand and respect moms who would make a different choice, but I feel that as part of informed consent there should be an offered choice between a c-section and induction. Why?
Any drugs to induce or augment labor throw everything out the window in terms of natural childbirth. They not only intensify contractions, but can totally obliterate that all important space inbetween contractions. With an unnatural forced labor there is no way for the body to keep up production of natural pain killers or any other natural reaction (and we don't know everything that the body produces in reaction to labor).
To put this in human terms, for me it was the difference between feeling like moving around and generally being an active participant in the birth process and curling up in a ball of pain too horrible for any sort of screaming or thrashing. I vomited and dry heaved violently and had to be given medication to stop it, leaving me sedated and even less capable of coping. Not everyone reacts so badly, but these are all known risks.
What I didn't really know then was that I was put at risk of hemorrhaging and other horrific deaths. Even worse, my babies were being put at risk of dying or being brain damaged.
ACOG: Study Finds Adverse Effects of Pitocin in Newborns
With my last baby I absolutely refused pitocin, but I had PROM (water broke before an active labor pattern) and the CNM (a hospital midwife who was not adhering to the midwifery standard of care) kept insisting that progress needed to be faster. After epic arguments, I, defeated and exhausted, took two doses of a drug called cytotec. I was given no info on the risks. When it finally worked, contractions were shooting pains from my scalp to my toes. I thought my back was going to break apart (posterior baby) and eventually I felt odd ripping/cutting and stinging sensations inside my lower abdomen. This was a possible small uterine tear (only a rupture with blood loss or fetal distress would be detectable).
Finally, here's what you won't hear from a doctor or pharmacist. There are emotional side effects. For me, natural labor was a balance between “sh** this f******* hurts” and “my body is amazing.” Once pitocin or cytotec took over, there was no amazement. I no longer connected what I was experiencing to the fact that I was about to meet my child. When it was finally over, I couldn't feel joy. I could care for my babies, but I wasn't excited or happy. I was angry at everyone (except my children). Something was just dead wrong inside. I felt like something inside me was missing, but there was nothing I could do except focus on my baby. The first few days of breastfeeding were difficult. It was like the colostrum (premilk) wasn't flowing (an affect of hormones unbalanced).
Granted, most women won't have quite as bad an experience, but please be aware of the physical and emotional risks of this form of tampering with labor.