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Oxytocin - about augmenting with oxytocin

Oxytocin - about augmenting with oxytocin


What if it doesn't work?

Arguments for and against Syntocinon

What if it doesn't work?

Oxytocin (pronounced 'ox-ee-tose-in') is a synthetic drug, similar to the natural oxytocin the woman's brain releases to stimulate contractions. The medication is administered intravenously (or 'IV') through a drip in the woman's vein. In Australia, the oxytocin medication used is called 'Syntocinon'. It may have other trade names in different countries.

Using an oxytocin drip to augment the labour is the most common method used when a woman's labour is slow, or the contractions are not very intense. It is also used if the waters have broken and the labour does not start, or to co-ordinate irregular uterine contractions. An oxytocin drip needs to be set up in the delivery suite. If planning to give birth in a birth centre, or at home, this would mean transferring. It also involves the baby's heart rate being continuously monitored with a CTG machine.

The caregiver inserts the drip into a vein in the woman's arm or hand (the woman may already have a drip in place if she previously had an epidural). A fine cannula (or hollow plastic tube), is left in place to allow the oxytocin infusion to be slowly dripped into the woman's blood stream. You may wish to request that the drip is inserted into the arm you use least (so if you are right handed place the drip in the left hand or arm). The drip needs to stay in until after the baby is born.

Individual women will vary with how sensitive they are to the medication and if it is not your first baby, then you can be much more sensitive to the drug. The medication needs to be given in a slow, controlled manner, and built up gradually over time. It is for this reason, that the drip is controlled by an electric infusion pump, counting the number of millilitres given each hour, to administer the precise dose required.

Syntocinon machine Image 4-39 shows one type of infusion pump that can be used to administer oxytocin.

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