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Precautions and Warnings With Oxytocin

Before a healthcare provider administers oxytocin, he or she will need to know if you have had major surgery on your uterus or if you have had a difficult labor and delivery in the past. Other precautions your healthcare provider will take to ensure your safety with oxytocin include discussing warnings of potential complications that may occur, such as dangerous bleeding, high blood pressure, and allergic reactions.

What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to receiving oxytocin (Pitocin®) if you have:
In addition, let your healthcare provider know if you are breastfeeding or plan to start. He or she also needs to know about all other medications you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Oxytocin Precautions and Warnings

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to receiving this medication include the following:
  • When used to induce labor or strengthen uterine contractions, oxytocin should only be given via an intravenous (IV) injection by a trained healthcare provider in a hospital setting that can provide continuous monitoring of the mother and unborn child.
  • The goal of treatment with this medicine is to produce contractions that are similar to those experienced with normal labor and delivery. However, some women may experience abnormal, intense, and frequent uterine contractions that can be harmful to the mother and unborn child. Many factors can increase a women's risk for abnormal uterine contractions from oxytocin use. Therefore, your healthcare provider will carefully weigh the risks and benefits of using this medicine in your individual situation.
  • You should know that there have been reports of death from extremely high blood pressure, bleeding into the brain, and uterine rupture (a tear in the uterus) in women receiving this medicine. There have also been reports of fetal deaths due to a variety of causes after women were given this medicine. You should talk to your healthcare provider about these potential risks before receiving it.
  • This medicine can cause your body to hold on to too much water, which can lead to a potentially life-threatening condition known as water intoxication. The risk for this problem is highest when the medicine is given as an IV infusion (a slow drip into a vein). Also, drinking fluids while receiving oxytocin may increase the risk for this problem.
  • This medication should only be used in women who have a medical reason to be induced.
  • Oxytocin is considered a pregnancy Category C medication. This means it may not be safe for use during pregnancy (see Pitocin and Pregnancy), although obviously it is intended for use in pregnant women.
  • It is unknown whether oxytocin passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to receiving the drug (see Pitocin and Breastfeeding).
Pregnancy and Pain

Oxytocin Medication Information

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