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Joy Goes to an Oxytocin Party

Hospitals Use Too Much Oxytocin During Labor

An Ohio study found that, as the use of oxytocin (or Pitocin) to speed up labor was reduced, medical outcomes for mothers and babies improved.

According to Elsevier Global Medical News, Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University in Dayton nearly halved its number of emergency C-sections in a three-year period by reducing its use of oxytocin.

Many hospitals try to keep labor on a predetermined schedule by giving a steady drip of oxytocin that's increased, also according to an arbitrary schedule.

“More and more data are showing us that we are using too much oxytocin too often,” Dr. [Gary] Ventolini, professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the university, said in an interview.

In normal, unmedicalized labor, a woman's body releases oxytocin in bursts. These bursts gradually push the baby down the birth canal. Because the pressure on the baby from the uterine walls  is not constant, there's less of a chance of the baby's brain being starved of oxygen.

Some people also think that the excessive oxytocin flooding the baby's body via the placenta and umbilical cord can create an allergic reaction to oxytocin, or, in another theory, set the oxytocin receptors in the baby's brain to an abnormally low sensitivity. Either of these could result in autism spectrum disorder.