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What Is Oxytocin Used For?

Oxytocin is prescribed for women either immediately before or after childbirth. It is given to cause or improve contractions in a variety of situations, such as to induce labor, empty the contents of pregnancy, or stimulate labor when the uterus is not contracting as well as it should. Oxytocin is only approved for use in adult women age 18 and older.

An Overview of Uses for Oxytocin

Oxytocin (Pitocin®) is a prescription medication approved for use in women immediately prior to or immediately after childbirth. Before childbirth, it is used to start or improve contractions of the uterus when there are concerns about the mother or unborn child so a vaginal delivery can occur. More specifically, oxytocin is used for the following reasons before childbirth:
  • To induce labor when there is a medical reason for this, such as:
    • Rh problems (when a mother has Rh-negative blood and the baby has Rh-positive blood)
    • When the mother has gestational diabetes
    • When the mother has developed preeclampsia
    • When starting labor is in the best interest of the mother or unborn baby.
  • To stimulate labor in cases where the uterus is not contracting sufficiently for labor and delivery to occur.
  • To help empty the womb (the uterus) after a miscarriage, incomplete abortion, or an elective abortion. An incomplete abortion occurs when all the contents of the womb (the uterus) do not exit the body.
After childbirth, oxytocin is used for the following reasons:
  • To start uterine contractions in the third stage of labor (the stage that occurs after the baby is born until the placenta is delivered) 
  • To control abnormal or excessive bleeding.
Pregnancy and Pain

Oxytocin Medication Information

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