Pitocin Warnings and Precautions
There are certain circumstances when Pitocin should not be given to women, such as if the baby is in fetal distress, your healthcare provider has determined you should not have a vaginal birth, or if you are already having frequent or intense contractions. Other precautions for receiving Pitocin safely include warnings of potential drug interactions or allergic reactions.
What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to receiving Pitocin® (oxytocin) if you have:
- Been told you have too much amniotic fluid
- Had major surgery on your uterus or cervix
- Had a cesarean section (C-section) in the past
- Given birth five or more times
- Had a difficult labor and delivery in the past
- Cervical cancer
- Genital herpes
- Any allergies, including to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
In addition, let your healthcare provider know if you are breastfeeding or plan to start. He or she also needs to know about all other medications you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Specific Precautions and Warnings With PitocinSome warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to receiving this medication include the following:
- When used to induce labor or strengthen uterine contractions, Pitocin should only be given via an intravenous (IV) injection by a trained healthcare provider in a hospital setting that can provide continuous monitoring of the mother and unborn child.
- The goal of treatment with this medicine is to produce contractions that are similar to those experienced with normal labor and delivery. However, some women may experience abnormal, intense, and frequent uterine contractions that can be harmful to the mother and unborn child. Many factors can increase a women's risk for abnormal uterine contractions from Pitocin use. Therefore, your healthcare provider will carefully weigh the risks and benefits of using this medicine in your individual situation.
- There have been reports of death from extremely high blood pressure, bleeding into the brain, and uterine rupture (a tear in the uterus) in women receiving this medicine. There have also been reports of fetal deaths due to a variety of causes after women were given this medicine. You should talk to your healthcare provider about these potential risks before receiving Pitocin.
- This medicine can cause your body to hold on to too much water, which can lead to a potentially life-threatening condition known as water intoxication. The risk for this problem is highest when the medicine is given as an IV infusion (a slow drip into a vein). Also, drinking fluids while receiving Pitocin may increase the risk for this problem.
- This medication should only be used in women who have a medical reason to be induced.
- Pitocin may react with a couple of other medications (see Pitocin Drug Interactions).
- Pitocin is considered a pregnancy Category C medication. This means it may not be safe for use during pregnancy (see Pitocin and Pregnancy), although obviously it is intended for use in pregnant women.
- It is unknown whether Pitocin passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to receiving the drug (see Pitocin and Breastfeeding).