For more than one hundred years many delivering mothers have been aided by the use of pitocin. Pitocin is a synthetic form of the naturally occurring oxytocin hormone. By synthetic it is meant developed artificially or to indicate a combination of an artificial substance and a real substance. It is commonly used every day in labor and delivery. Injecting the body with synthetic oxytocin is expected to cause uterine contractions. It may be used to start labor, speed up a slow labor, or to cause the uterus to clamp down and stop bleeding after the baby and placenta are born.
Other than trying to find a more effective substance to support labor and delivery, pitocin and oxytocin have routinely been used without question. However, one scientist is not so certain that pitocin is the wonder drug that it’s been cracked up to be.
In an interview I conducted with Chemistry of Connection author Susan Kuchinskas (which you can listen to for free here: http://oxytocincentral.com ) she discusses the research of Dr. Gregory Saba, a Hungarian researcher, who has coined a term called Faulty Imprinting of Hormonal Receptors. He believes that that the first time the receptor in your brain encounters the neurotransmitter that it’s supposed to bind with, that sets its level of reaction. It’s as though the receptor’s thermostat is being set during this critical period. He believes that when hospitals use pitocin, a synthetic form of oxytocin used to start or speed labor, it may flood the oxytocin receptors in the fetus’ brain and overwhelm them. That sets them at a very, very low level. So much oxytocin is flooding the cells, the receptor doesn’t need to be very sensitive. It’s going to be very insensitive. Later on, when normal levels of oxytocin are released in the brain, receptors can’t pick it up. They aren’t sensitive enough.
Another scientist, Dr. Michel Odent was quoted in Midwivery Today as stating, “80% of the blood reaching the fetus via the umbilical vein goes directly to the inferior vena cava via the ductus venosus, bypassing the liver, and therefore immediately reaching the brain: it is all the more direct since the shunts (foramen ovale and ductus arteriosus) are not yet closed. . . . Furthermore, it appears that the permeability of the blood-brain barrier can increase in situations of oxidative stress—a situation that is common when drips of synthetic oxytocin are used during labor. We have, therefore, serious reasons to be concerned if we take into account the widely documented concept of “oxytocin-induced desensitization of the oxytocin receptors.” To which author of the informative blog First Breath Doula Services Cindy Hansen exclaims, “In other words, it is probable that, at a quasi-global level, we routinely interfere with the development of the oxytocin system of human beings at a critical phase for gene-environment interaction”.
To borrow from the notorious sociologist C. Wright Mills, if we were to apply our sociological imagination to this possibility what we might unveil is a potentially very scary scenario. Is it possible that the medical establishment has unwittingly exposed a large majority of our society to the aftereffects of a desensitized oxytocin system because of early exposure to pitocin?
Our world has increasingly become more disconnected over time. To the extent that most of us do not even know our next door neighbors, and considering that we live almost on top of one another that cannot simply be a manifestation of being “too busy”.
And then let’s not forget the dramatic increase in mental disorders over the past one hundred years. And yes, though mental illness has been around since the beginning of time, we can’t chalk the increase up to a greater awareness. My opinion for a number of years has been that it’s due to stress. There are so many more children exhibiting ADHD, ODD, Bi-Polar, Depression, etc. because our society and our families are so much more stressed, but guess what? I’ve been wrong. Yes the world is more stressed but we have been lacking is the neurologic, physiological ability to cope with the increase in stress which is a healthy oxytocin response. Both children and adults suffering from mental health deficiencies also suffer primarily from oxytocin deficiencies. Why is it that oxytocin supplementation is suddenly demonstrating a positive effect on autistic children and adults, not to mention those suffering from schizophrenic conditions? It’s because oxytocin is what’s been missing to begin with!
It’s time to apply your sociological imagination. Let’s make C. Wright Mills proud.
In the meantime remember to breathe…it releases oxytocin!
Bryan Post, Managing Editor