Why does Pitocin make ctx hurt more? - Mothering Forums
Birth and Beyond > Why does Pitocin make ctx hurt more?
jlutgendorf's Avatar jlutgendorf 02:37 PM 07-18-2007
My friend just had a baby girl on Wed. am after being induced Tues. pm.

She's not crunchy at all but hates hospitals and found out her Dr. was going out of town and wouldn't be back before she would most likely go into labor on her own, so they decided to induce two days past her due date to minimize her contact with unknown hospital staff.

She was telling me about the labor and said that she was in the pushing stage for about 3 hours and she wasn't getting the standard: ctx, push, rest, repeat. She just had ctx on top of ctx over and over again (and that her epidural had worn off or wasn't doing anything for her at that point).

I mentioned that pitocin has a side effect (would that be an accurate phrase?) of making contractions hurt worse than if she went into labor on her own and she was really surprised by that (because of course they didn't tell her this!). I wanted her to know how strong she was dealing with what was probably more pain than she would have had otherwise. But then she asked why that was and I realized I didn't know! My best guess was that the drug sets the time table for contractions rather your body and the pressure from the baby, and that's somehow more painful, but really I have no clue.

I'm flying out in a few days to visit her and the new baby and I'd like to be a little more informed so I can explain it better to her.

Thanks mamas!


naturegirl7's Avatar naturegirl7 03:32 PM 07-18-2007
Your body releases oxytocin - the natural form of pitocin - to get contrax moving and grooving. Obviously your body does it in small doses, gradually building up as labor progresses. early labor = little bits of oxytocin and little contrax spaced nicely apart. Active labor = more oxytocin released and contrax that build in intensity and length and decrease in spacing. Late active labor there is even more released and the contrax are basically on top of each other cuz you are ready to push that baby out. Even afterwards, the baby begins to nurse and more is released to cause the placenta to deliver and to prevent extreme blood loss. (hence why many OBs have routine pit injections for all mothers immediately after delivery.)

Pitocin just "dumps" synthetic oxytocin into your system. basically eliminated early labor. No time for your body to get adjusted to contrax or develop a rhythm to coping with/working with them during active labor. It is like skipping early labor and the beginnings of active labor altogether - you suddenly start in late active labor. And they just keep pumping more and more into your body. Increasing the contrax to the point that they are incredibly painful and almost right on top of each other.

I mean, can you even imagine starting labor in the late active phase??? There is a reason your body does things gradually -for you and for the baby. It is no wonder why many induced women end up with C/S for fetal distress or failure to progress.....
guest9921's Avatar guest9921 04:09 PM 07-18-2007

Also - your body isn't able to accomodate the changes as well through the release of natural painkillers.
_betsy_'s Avatar _betsy_ 04:15 PM 07-18-2007
Yep, what they said.

For me, I went from 100% and 4 cms dilated straight into transition in a matter of minutes. It was very, very intense from the first contraction I ever felt (pit induced, I was having contractions I hadn't been feeling before that) until 2 hours later when the baby was born. They aren't "rushes," they aren't "waves" of contraction, rest, contraction, rest. For me, at least, the ctx came one right after the other and I never got a chance to catch my breath between them.
AngelaB's Avatar AngelaB 04:39 PM 07-18-2007
With natural contrax the muscles begin to contract at the base of the uterus and travels upwards and intensifies and then releases.This is why contrax are often reffered to as waves. The discomfort intensifies, peaks and subsides. If I remember correctly it also encourages the baby to move down and sort of squeezes the baby gently(in a manner of speaking) down and causes hormonal and other changes to occur in babe to signal the changes babe has to make to be born as well.
Its quite a finely coreographed dance between mom and babe. The babies heart rate adjusts with each contraction also which is totaly normal however with an underexperienced care provider this can be interpreted as distress when in fact normal in natural birth. The time in between contractions is a rest and recouperate time for mom and babe.

In artificial contrax the whole uterus contracts at once intnsely and causes trauma to mother and baby. How well each person tolerates this is different based on the individual. I beleive there is also more incidences of fetal distress due to the artificial contrax. There is no build up and let down its just peak after peak which tires mom and distresses baby. Some people dont respond to pit at all and there bodies just will not be coaxed into labor where as others get sent on a horrible roller coaster of interventions from the start.
When the contrax are right on top of each other neither mom nor babe has time to recover in order to do it again in a couple minutes causing a whole other host of concerns.

I hope I didnt get anything wrong here I havent thought of it in a while and I have pregnant brain fog!
jlutgendorf's Avatar jlutgendorf 04:53 PM 07-18-2007
Thanks ladies! That's helpful. She did mention at the end that she could never get a break from the ctx to rest and recover. That makes sense about the slow building of contractions vs throwing you into them and the difference between a "natural" contraction and an induced one.

I'm always trying to educate myself as to the "whys" of things. It can be so easy to just say something like: "induced contractions hurt more!" but then not know WHY they do, yk?

guest9921's Avatar guest9921 05:02 PM 07-18-2007
I was ignorantly (on my part) induced at 41+ weeks.

'Natural' contractions after AROM until 4-5cm, and then pitocin.

The contractions were completely different, and were hell. I'd never do it again.
DoomaYula's Avatar DoomaYula 06:02 PM 07-18-2007
I've also heard that each woman's body reacts differently to Pitocin. Some women need just a tiny bit, some women need a lot. I'm not sure what the "standard" dose is, but I can't imagine being one of the women who needs just a little bit and then getting more than I needed and being in excrutiating pain. :
arimama's Avatar arimama 07:01 PM 07-18-2007
Also in normal labor, as oxitocin increases making contractions more painful, endorphines kick in to help deal with the pain. I believe that Pitocin does not cross the blood brain barrier, therefor the body doesnt get the message to send out those endorphines. So its super duper contractions without the pain killing, mind altering benefits of Endorphs.