Induction – Oxytocin infusion

The fifth article in our Induction series and on using a synthetic form of oxytocin infusion to induce labour.  Again, this piece is part of our series aimed at being read in 3 minutes or less.


Oxytocin is a naturally produced hormone. It is released from the posterior pituitary when we feel loved and safe. The more loved and the safer we feel during labour, the more oxytocin our bodies will naturally release. And the stronger our contractions become. Oxytocin is responsible for stimulating the rhythmic contractions of the uterine smooth muscle.

Of course, science can help us out if needed with a synthetic form of oxytocin called, Picton. An IV of Picton is used to induce contractions and in turn, dilate your cervix.  Your caregiver will monitor and change your dose depending on how your body and the baby reacts to the IV. The aim is to produce sufficient uterine activity to open your cervix but without causing distress to your baby.

Why would you need Oxytocin?

Your caregiver is likely to suggest administering oxytocin if:

  • it has been more than 6 hours since prostaglandins where applied, and your labour hasn’t started, or
  • your labour has stalled.

What happens first

  • If you have received vaginal prostaglandin, your caregiver will wait 6 hours before administering an oxytocin regime.
  • Your caregiver will suggest artificially rupturing your membranes.
  • The baby’s well-being will be assessed by a cardiotocograph for approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Your caregiver will then administer just enough synthetic oxytocin so that you have one contraction every two and a half to three minutes that lasts for at least 60 seconds.


Risks associated with oxytocin infusion are:

  • hyperstimulation / uterine hypertonus – when a single contraction lasts two or more minutes, or you have five contractions within 10 minutes,
  • hyponatraemia – when the sodium level in your blood is too low,
  • hypotension – low blood pressure,
  • nausea and vomiting (rare), or
  • arrhythmias, anaphylactoid (rare) – an irregular heartbeat.

When it is not recommended to use synthetic oxytocin

Caregivers are unlikely to suggest oxytocin use where you have:

  • birthed more than four babies,
  • previously had two or more c-sections,
  • a uterine scar from a different procedure,
  • irregular foetal heart rate, or
  • any other condition where spontaneous labour is not advisable.



This was the last article in our series. Give us a like if you enjoyed it.

This blog post is general in nature. Please do not treat this blog as medical advice – it is not.

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