Friday, August 13, 2010


As I mentioned in yesterday's post, when I come across a link that I find hold important information, I'll usually share it on twitter, and sometimes on facebook as well.  Every so often, I come across too many links in one day.  And sometimes, I have too much to say about them for either twitter or facebook.

Today is one of those days.

Today I came across the term "pit to distress."  This is, apparently, a medical term meaning that the doctor wants to use large doses of Pitocin in order to make the woman's labor progress as quickly as possible, and even to cause fetal distress so they can call for a c-section.  

My first reaction was skepticism.  This sounded too horrifying, too downright malicious, to possibly be true.  Then I read the following posts:

Each of those posts (and there are plenty others) recounts either a L&D nurse's personal experiences with doctors who practice "pit to distress," or link to nurses, doulas, and midwives who have also personally dealt with it.  I can't say how widespread this practice might be, but that it happens at all sickens me.  That it happens often enough for this many birth attendants to say, "Yep, I've seen that," is horrifying.  These posts were all written last summer.  Has this practice died down since then? Increased? I don't know.  But dear lord.  I wonder how many of those women had any idea what was being done to them as the Pitocin was increased (or as their nurses battled with their doctors to keep it from happening).  

See, I don't blame women for wanting to birth in a hospital. I may not share it, but I can understand that desire.  I do blame is the doctors and hospitals who practice this sort of "medicine," as well as the lawsuits that have made it so that we collectively believe that performing major abdominal surgery is somehow "safer" than letting labor progress on its own.  This is what drives women like me to not want to touch a Labor & Delivery unit with a 10 foot pole.

And now, the flip side-- another amazing post I came across today, except this is a positive one.  This is a midwife's description of what generally happens during prenatal care and then home birth with a midwife:

It seems a lot of the vitriol against home birth seems to come from people who have no idea what one is like, or what a midwife's role and capabilities are.  So, here's hoping that spreading posts this like last one around might help improve that just a bit.


  1. That is so disturbing. It is interesting how different child birth seems to be in the US than in Europe, I am sure you see it too!

    By the way, I love that you are having a homebirth, I think it is awesome and can't wait to read all about it!

  2. That is horrible. It's a shame that stories like this are out there and overshadow how great a hospital birth can be with the right doctors, nurses, and communication. I thought home birth or using a midwife in the hospital but stuck with my regular obgyn for both deliveries and loved both. I agree that it's a personal choice and that women have to do what's right for them. I also want to point out that there are probaby a few horrifying home birth stories out there too, while i have no links, i'm sure they are there...bottom line is...we all have the power of choice...we just need to arm ourselves with the information and use it.

  3. Thank you for the link about home births. I'm going to share it with my husband when the time comes, to give him a better idea of what I want and why I want it. Your own experiences will also help to "soften the blow" for him. :)

  4. Oh that absolutely turns my stomach. How is that even ethical?

  5. I remember seeing a vlog about "Pit to distress" a while back (probably when you were pregnant with D, or shortly after you'd given birth), so this is not new. It's definitely something that's been on my mind now that it's pretty likely we will be inducing; I trust my OB, but this will be something we keep an eye on...

    Another problem with Pitocin is that some doctors/nurses start you off with a high dose, to make sure contractions start, which makes the contractions fast and hard (too fast, too hard) for many women, instead of starting off with a low dose and waiting to see if that starts the contractions. If the low dose does not seem to be working, THEN they raise the dosage gradually... so that you only get as much as you need to get contractions started, instead of turning the thing full blast right from the beginning.

    So, yeah... even if they don't intend to "Pit to distress" to cut you open, many doctors overdo the Pitocin anyway... argh.



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