In the modern age of labor and delivery, an increasing percentage of laboring mothers are administered Pitocin to induce or speed labor and delivery. There is, however, a dark side to the now-widespread use of Pitocin: the very real danger of complications and severe Pitocin birth injuries to both mother and baby.
What is Pitocin?
Pitocin is a synthetic version of the hormone oxytocin, which causes contractions in laboring mothers. But oxytocin is released in short bursts during labor. Pitocin, by contrast, is generally administered via an intravenous pump, which releases the drug in a continuous stream.
Women who have experienced labor both with and without Pitocin universally report that Pitocin causes sharper, harder, more painful labor and contractions.
Complications of Pitocin
Discomfort is not the true worry of Pitocin, however. The sharper, harder contractions which lead to increased pain can also lead to a number of very serious side effects. Serious, even deadly complications of Pitocin include:
- Ruptured Uterus
- Premature placental separation (which in turn can lead to oxygen deprivation in the baby, brain damage, or even death)
- Post-birth hemorrhage in the mother
- Asphyxia or hypoxia in the infant
- Brain injury in the infant
- Cerebral palsy in the infant
- Paralysis or permanent disability
- Stillbirth or maternal death
Negligence at Birth Can be Catastrophic to Baby or Mother
Due to the very real, very serious risks of Pitocin, the drug should never be used without fetal monitoring. And the drug should never be used without a surgeon and anesthesiologist available to perform and emergency cesarean-section, if necessary.
But fetal monitoring can only do so much. Fetal monitoring provides a proxy for the baby’s condition by monitoring his heartrate. Yet, Pitocin often causes injury by causing too-frequent contractions, known as hyperstimulation of the uterus or tachysystole, thus preventing the placenta from replenishing its (and thus the infant’s) oxygen supply.
Fetal heartrate monitoring can only reveal the fetus’ eventual response to this problem. If the physician and medical staff do not respond immediately to a change in fetal heartrate, the damage may already be done. Indeed, the physician and staff should, in the exercise of due care, respond to hyperstimulation or too-frequent contractions before any change in fetal heartrate is detected.
If you or your infant suffered serious, permanent injuries at birth after the administration of Pitocin, it is possible that you were the victim of medical negligence. Although every case is different, the failure to use fetal monitoring, to respond immediately to any change in fetal condition, or to respond to your concerns about the frequency or severity of contractions are all indicators that your doctor may have violated that standard of care.
If you have any questions about your labor and deliver or brain damage that you believe was caused by negligence at birth, please give us a call us at 312-527-4500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary consultation. You can also learn more by following us on Twitter, reviewing our LinkedIn or Avvo.com pages, and by reviewing our website.