Oxytocin is commonly given via IV during birth is progress is slow, but researchers reveal this extra boost of labor inducing hormone may not be needed in many cases – when given during normal labor.

Women in the study were first time mothers who entered into labor naturally. Women were monitored during delivery and revisited one month after birth. In cases where the first stage of labor was slower than doctor’s expected, some women were given IV oxytocin to speed up labor.

About 13% of women, who were experiencing slow labor for two to three hours, did not receive oxytocin. When women were visited one month after the birth of their child, the experiences were positive and negative, but there were no significant differences between the group of women receiving oxytocin and those not receiving the treatment. Women receiving oxytocin did move through labor slightly faster than those who did not, but the time difference did not affect the emotional outcome of the delivery.

Oxytocin does come with potential side effects for the fetus, which is one reason to wait before starting the IV drip. One common side effect is overstimulation resulting in a restriction of the blood supply.

The emotional outcome of the first delivery is also a concern. According to Anna Dencker PhD student, “A normal first delivery and positive birth experience are extremely important and impact on future pregnancies and deliveries. However, more research is needed to identify the factors that contribute to negative experiences.”

Source: Anna Dencker. University of Gothenburg. 12 November, 2010.