Pitocin has been used widely to induce labor in difficult births for many years, and when used properly has many benefits. Unfortunately for many new mothers, the potential side effects can be severe and life altering. One of the main side effects of pitocin is that, when it is used without proper care, fetal distress can lead to severe brain injury to the baby.
How Does Pitocin Contribute to Birth Injury?
While pitocin does not directly contribute to injury to a child during birth, problems arise due to improper use of pitocin, usually to avoid performing a c-section. Many doctors will use pitocin to induce labor during difficult birth specifically to avoid a c-section. Unfortunatley, in some cases a c-section is absolutely necessary to avoid injury to the fetus.
In cases where the fetal hearbeat and other monitoring indicates fetal distress and lack of oxygen flow to the fetal brain, immediate removal of the fetus is critical to avoid potentially permanent brain injury. While inducing labor is an option, if it is not immediately successful, a c-section should be performed without hesitation.
Timely Delivery is Critical
The issue at heart is timliness. If pitocin is administered and fetal distress is indicated, the pitocin administration must be stopped, and a c-section may need to be performed immediately. Every minute of delay increases the chance of brain injury to the fetus.
Relying, even momentarily, on pitocin to solve the problem may lead to injury for which the doctor may be held responsible.
For more information on how a doctors decision making during birth can have legal implications, read: Malpractice Suits Stemming from Pitocin Induction