Escape the Pitocin Trap: Induction, Suffering and Traumatic Fear

Dear Mother,

Please don't let 'Pit' be your pitfall. Maybe you were induced first time around. You remember the power and unspeakable pain of your pitocin strong contractions. You had wanted an unmedicated birth. You fought bravely for as long as you could, but in the end you were beaten into submission by the unrelenting contractions. You got an epidural. If this is you, keep reading.

©  Photo credit of J L Scott Photography

©  Photo credit of J L Scott Photography

The fact that you got an epidural is ok. There is no shame or failure in that. Our bodies were not made to handle Pitocin driven contractions. They are usually too brutal to handle without the help of painkillers. They are not the reality of normal birth. That's not the way it's supposed to be.

Please don't get me wrong. Induction can be hugely beneficial and medically necessary in some cases. That's not the point here. What I hope you realize is that an induced birth does not give you an accurate idea of what spontaneous birth is like.

If you have ever wanted an unmedicated birth, please try not to fall into the natural fear of letting your first and induced birth experience decide how you want to handle subsequent births. Don't rush to get an epidural because your induced experience was so painful.

It is easy to fall into this trap. A lady I know was induced with her first over five years ago. Originally she wanted to go all natural. To this day, she remembers suffering through her Pitocin strong contractions. She regrets not getting an epidural sooner, and she is vehemently opposed to ever trying an unmedicated birth again because her first experience was so painful.

I hear stories like this often, and it saddens me. There is nothing wrong with being induced for medical reasons. And truly, if you are induced, by all means get the epidural when you need it! Get it before you start suffering, please! But if you are one of those brave souls who tried to go unmedicated through an induction, please don't let your memories rob you of trying for a better birth experience next time, if you want.

If you want an epidural simply because you feel it is in your best interest, that is just fine. What I dearly hope to communicate here is that induced birth is not what spontaneous  birth feels like and that you shouldn't let fear push you into getting an epidural simply because you remember how painful your induced birth was.

I realize that's probably easier said than done, especially if you braved induction contractions without medicine past the point of suffering. Birth leaves an incredible and long lasting imprint on our minds, and if your memories are primarily those of pain, suffering and failure, then fear is perfectly natural. Memories of your first birth are paramount in your mind as you prepare for subsequent births.

Talk to people. Find a mother who has experienced both induced and spontaneous births. Ask her how they compare. Talk to your care provider. See how they feel about induction. Do they induce at the drop of a hat? Or do they use it in its proper context, only in medical necessity (in which case you have a great chance of not needing another induction)?

Consider hiring a doula. She will be able to support you in whatever preferences you have for your birth and will help you stick to them, even if you falter. Really, I cannot stress how much a doula can help, especially if you go into your birth with fear or trepidation.

So, dear mother, I hope this letter brings you some peace. I hope you know how my heart goes out to you that you've had an induced experience. I hope these words of encouragement help reach into the deep inner strength within you and encourage you to try for the birth you want next time around - a birth without fear.

Much love,

Unbiased Mama


Special thanks to J L Scott Photography (a Lincoln, NE area photographer!) for contributing the lovely picture! Check out her Facebook page and give her a "like" to see more of her great work!