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The Risks

Oxytocin is a hormone and neuropeptide that works to stimulate uterine muscles during labor and delivery. Oxytocin also increases the production of prostaglandins, a group of lipids that help induce labor through contractions.

During pregnancy, the cervix is closed. As the delivery date approaches, the cervix begins to soften, open, and rotate into the appropriate position. The cervix can dilate for several weeks, but once it has opened to 5cm or more, the body is ready to deliver. If contractions have not started on their own at this point, your doctor may want to induce labor with Pitocin.

What is Pitocin?

Pitocin is a synthetic form of oxytocin. Used to induce labor through uterine contractions, Pitocin may be medically necessary in cases of fetal distress, when excess amniotic fluid is present (polyhydramnios), and in mothers with pre-eclampsia. It may also be necessary when the water has broken but labor has not started or in cases where a baby is several weeks overdue.


There are some benefits offered through labor induction. When successful, induced labor can reduce fetal distress, ease pain and discomfort for the mother, and reduce the risk of needing a C-Section. This can be particularly useful for women who plan on having more children and would prefer vaginal delivery. It can also reduce the risks related to surgical delivery such as excessive bleeding, uterine infection, and blood clots.

While induction can be medically necessary, it may also be performed needlessly or in an effort to speed the natural process of labor and delivery. This is particularly worrisome in light of the serious risks that Pitocin can pose to both mother and baby.

Risks posed by Pitocin include:

  • Uterine Hyperstimulation
  • Uterine Rupture
  • Drop in Fetal Heart Rate
  • Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy
  • Umbilical Cord Problems
  • Fetal Distress

Pitocin can start working quickly. The sudden change in hormones can cause the body to go into heavy labor within 30 minutes, placing stress on the uterus, the mother, and the baby. This increases the risk of serious or fatal injury and may necessitate an emergency C-Section.

When Pitocin is administered, careful monitoring of mother and child is necessary. In many cases, the dosage of Pitocin has to be lowered after induction in order to prevent stress on the baby. When monitoring is inadequate or negligent, risks for birth injury increase significantly.


If you were administered Pitocin during labor and your child was born with a complication related to fetal distress or oxygen deprivation, Lourie, Chance, Forlines, Carter & King, PC is here to help. Our Atlanta birth injury lawyers have the resources and persistence to see these cases through. We are here to answer your questions, provide you with honest information about your options, and help you choose the best path on which to move forward.

Call Lourie, Chance, Forlines, Carter & King, PC at 404-760-7400 to schedule your complimentary case review at one of our conveniently located Atlanta offices. We represent families struggling with birth injury in Columbus, Augusta, Savannah, and throughout the state of Georgia.