Pitocin: Official FDA Information

January 19, 2011

Your OB knows this information, but gives pit to 80% (or more) of his patients anyway.


The following adverse reactions to pitocin have been reported in the mother:

  • Anaphylactic reaction  (an exaggerated allergic reaction)
  • Premature ventricular contractions  (irregular hearbeat)
  • Postpartum hemorrhage  (severe bleeding after the birth)
  • Pelvic hematoma  (a blood clot in the pelvis)
  • Cardiac arrhythmia  (heartbeat that is too fast or too slow)
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage  (bleeding into the brain)
  • Fatal afibrinogenemia  (slow, prolonged bleeding that leads to death.)
  • Hypertensive episodes  (dangerously high blood pressure)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rupture of the uterus  (Means exactly what you think it means. Horrible.)

Excessive dosage or hypersensitivity to the drug may result in:

  • Uterine hypertonicity: (an overstimulated uterus, with frequent intense contractions that aren’t effective)
  • Spasm: (like a charlie horse in your uterus)
  • Tetanic contraction: (a contraction that won’t stop: can cause uterine rupture)
  • Rupture of the uterus: (this is a potentially catastrophic pulling apart of uterus)
  • The possibility of increased blood loss and afibrinogenemia should be kept in mind when administering the drug.
  • Severe water intoxication with convulsions and coma has occurred, associated with a slow oxytocin infusion over a 24-hour period.Maternal death due to oxytocin-induced water intoxication has been reported.

The following adverse reactions have been reported in the fetus or neonate, due to use of oxytocin in the mother:

  • Bradycardia:  (abnormally slow hearbeat)
  • Low Apgar scores at five minutes:  (poor Activity, Pulse, Grimace, Appearance, and Respiration. after birth)
  • Premature ventricular contractions and other arrhythmias:  (irregular heartbeat)
  • Neonatal jaundice:  (yellowing of the skin in a newborn; can become toxic if bilirubin levels are too high)
  • Permanent CNS or brain damage:  (CNS = Central Nervous System damage, includes Cerebral Palsy)
  • Neonatal retinal hemorrhage:  (bleeding of the blood vessels in the eyes)
  • Neonatal seizures have been reported with the use of Pitocin.
  • Fetal death

This is why I make it my mission to stamp out the use of pitocin during labor, unless its use is medically justifiable, and it ALMOST NEVER IS.

And for those of you who want to argue that the FDA lists scary adverse affects for all medications, even Ibuprofen and Tylenol, let me ask you this: last time you were pregnant and took a Tylenol, were you required to have your blood pressure monitored continuously while the drug was in your system? Were you hooked up to mandatory I.V. fluids? Did your doctor have to place an intrauterine pressure catheter inside your uterus to make sure that your contractions don’t become so intense that the muscles rupture? Was your baby subjected to internal fetal monitoring (in which a little electrode is screwed into the baby’s scalp) in order to make sure the baby’s heart-rate doesn’t crash? There is a reason that pitocin-induced moms are strapped to their beds with all these tubes and wires. Pitocin is dangerous, and doctors know it.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

rachel baldi May 11, 2011 at 9:47 am

I know someone that as an infant had bradycardia after her mother was given pitocin, her OB is now recommending pitocin for her during her preganancy. Any info out there regarding safety in this person? Thanks

Courtney H October 28, 2011 at 2:06 pm

I just recently birthed my third child…with hopes of doing it natural I had a doula by my side to guide me. Everything was going great, until my doctor decided I wasnt progressing fast enough while only being in the hospital for 6 hours and dialated to 8cm she put pitocin in my IV against my judgement…the pain was so intense I dont remember the next 2 hours or the delivery of my son..and because of another woman having her baby she pulled my son out instead of letting me deliver him myself….so I guess what I am saying is that to me pitocin is dangerous and should not be used!

Ashley July 10, 2012 at 6:32 pm

I agree pitocin is horrible, I didn’t feel that it was necessary at the stage of labor I was at. Although I was being induced at 42 weeks, I don’t feel the appropriate attempts had been taken before assuming pitocin was the way to go. Ultimately: I came as close to dead as you can get without flat lining. I had no blood pressure that could be registered and my heart rate was under 35 bpm. What was worse, is I also didn’t react well to the counter drug for pitocin. The staff spent 4-6 hours trying to keep me alive.

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