#249 | Katie Spinks Breaks the Silence: Pitocin, Uterine Rupture, and Life-Altering Consequences

January 24, 2024

Pitocin has been named the most over-used and abused drug in maternity care. It is increasingly used for elective induction despite the lack of FDA approval for this purpose. Rupture of the uterus is a known adverse reaction to this drug, and its use is contraindicated when there is fetal distress or overstimulation of the uterus. Few, if any, women are given full informed consent to the administration of this drug in labor. Katie Spinks is one of these women.

Katie had a routine, elective induction at 39 weeks for the birth of her fourth child. Her uterus ruptured and her baby suffered a long period without oxygen. She was born with severe brain damage, unable to speak or walk, and has been given a very short life expectancy. In this episode, Katie shares the egregious care she received in labor, detailing the mistreatment by her nurse and the medical staff's refusal to listen to her pleas for help when she knew something was wrong. She also describes the overt manipulation of her medical records to remove any evidence of the use of Pitocin in her care.

Katie shares with us the painstaking ways in which her life and that of her family were changed as a  result, but also the deep love and connection she shares with her disabled daughter, Jolene. Among Katie's life missions is for women to receive full informed consent when it comes to Pitocin.

This episode sheds light on the rare, but real, harms of a drug that is causally and excessively given to women without medical indication or complete informed consent.

Katie Spinks on Instagram

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View Episode Transcript

Nobody took me seriously. They just kept saying that I was overreacting, I was dramatic, I should be used to the pain like it doesn't hurt that bad. My daughter went almost 48 minutes after my rupture with a fetal tone of 40 to 60. So she is now severely and profoundly disabled for the rest of her life, and she's not projected to live longer than 13 years.

And when you were offered Pitocin, for the induction, did anybody say anything to you about? The risks was uterine rupture ever mentioned?

No, nobody told me any risks at all. They said, Pitocin is safe, and everybody uses it to get them through labor faster. I found out all this information on Pitocin after the rupture happened, and they told me that this is rare, and it never happens. And I just didn't feel right. I knew that I knew that it was a lie.

I'm Cynthia Overgard, owner of HypnoBirthing of Connecticut, childbirth advocate and postpartum support specialist. And I'm Trisha Ludwig, certified nurse midwife and international board certified lactation consultant. And this is the Down To Birth Podcast. Childbirth is something we're made to do. But how do we have our safest and most satisfying experience in today's medical culture? Let's dispel the myths and get down to birth.

My name is Katie, I'm 34. I live in Virginia, I have six children, only four of them are living. I had two premature stillbirths in 2021. My children aged from range, age and range three to 13. I'm on here today. So I can talk about my birth story and the lessons from it. And talk about all the things that other people can learn from my story. So I'm here today to talk about the story with my fourth child Jolene, who is almost four, and what I went through with her birth and how Pitocin completely ruined my birth and change the course of our lives and our families for the rest of our life. So Pitocin caused my uterus to rupture. And a uterine rupture is a medical emergency. There's only minutes before mom needs to be in the alar getting a C section before tragedy can happen. My daughter went almost 48 minutes after my rupture with a fetal tone of 40 to 60. My medical team did not take me seriously my nurse kept holding my legs closed and held a mask over my face. told me she didn't know how to deliver a baby. She told me to be quiet that I was scaring the other mothers on the ward. And when the doctor finally came in, this was about two hours after my rupture had occurred. The only thing that she could focus on was my birth plan. And the fact that I wanted to keep my placenta and not vaccinate the baby. That's all she was concerned about. She didn't care that my husband was running around like a chicken with his head cut off. And I was screaming and agony. And we're all just begging for help. And nobody, nobody cared. She continued to make me polish. She used the vacuum and it popped off three times. And then eventually when I did pass out for the very last time, I didn't wake back up. And my husband said the nurse made him hold the ammonia sticks in my nostrils while she held a mask over my face. And then they sat there for about five minutes and they were like okay, well I guess we have to do a C section now. And he said that they just casually walked off.

And what was the effect on your baby.

She suffered severe brain damage. She was born completely purple and blue from head to toe. It took them multiple rounds of CPR and epi to get her stable enough to vet her start umbilical lines start calling her and then they transferred her so she is now severely and profoundly disabled for the rest of her life and she's not projected to live longer than 13 years.

Katie Can we just take a few steps back in your story and try to get an understanding of how something so blatantly horrible, horrific and and neglectful could happen to somebody in labor? You you underwent an induction for what reason?

It was an elective induction. My doctor offered it when I was around 38 weeks he said that I was healthy. I was full term that there were no risks involved since I'd already had three other children. And again because I was healthy that we could just in douce me at 39 weeks and go on about it.

You also mentioned that you had to prior stillbirth. Was that a factor in his and no discussion with you happened in 2021 Julian's the birth trauma happened in January of 2020. And then I had two stillbirths one January 2021. And one in June of 2021. This was after the rupture. I see.

I see. Okay. So you opted for an elective induction? How many? Do you recall how many hours you were getting? Pitocin for?

Um, they started it almost immediately after I got there. I know, they started it right around eight o'clock in the morning, I checked in around seven. I was on Pitocin. So a, at least nine hours.

And when you were offered Pitocin for the induction, did anybody say anything to you about? The risks was uterine rupture ever mentioned?

No, nobody told me any risks at all.

fetal distress, nothing. They said, perfectly safe.

They said Pitocin is safe, and everybody uses it to get them through labor faster. They neglected to say that it has never been FDA approved for the elective induction of labor as well.

They did not tell me that at all. I found out all this information on Pitocin after the rupture happened, and they told me that this is rare, and it never happens. And I just didn't feel right. I knew that I knew that it was a lie. I knew there was a reason for it. It is rare, but it does happen. And it is a risk. And it is a it is a known risk. And it's right there on the on the Towson label. So at what point in your labor Did you sense that something was wrong? You described your baby's heart rate being in the 40 to 60 range, which is a third of where it should be very severe significant.

She was in serious distress for a very long time, that's a very significant level of distress in a baby. And nobody was doing anything at that time under under proper care. In normal circumstances, if a baby's heart rate drops into the 40s or 50s, for pretty much any length of time, if it is not very quickly resolved, a woman is being offered a C section immediately. So how did this go? unnoticed? How did how did all this time pass before you were taking care of what were you feeling? You sense that something was wrong? And the nurse was completely dismissive of what you were feeling and expressing meanwhile, your baby's heart rate was plummeting and not recovering and nobody was getting a doctor and nobody was taking the appropriate steps.

Correct? She I don't know. I don't know how they missed it. If they genuinely missed it, or if they purposefully missed it, because if you look at the strips, you can see it you can see where my uterine patterns they changed from, you know, normal contractions to these really wonky patterns and it stayed really weird. And then where her heart rate also starts dipping and then dipping and dipping and then it stays dipped. Like if you look at the strip's it is a clear indication that something something strange went on. But nobody, nobody took me seriously. They just kept saying that. I was overreacting. I was dramatic. I should be used to the pain like it doesn't hurt that bad.

You were called overreacting. They actually yes, actually spoke to you in that manner.

She the nurse was horrible. I only had one nurse. It was one nurse I remember her very clearly. And she just kept telling me that I was scaring the other women because I was screaming so loud. And my husband kept saying she's screaming so loud because something is wrong. She's had three other kids and this has never happened. Like somebody needs to do something and she just kept saying what she needs to stop. She's she's being really dramatic. This time I get that labor hurts, but it doesn't hurt that bad. Unreal.

Unreal. I want to ask you this before we proceed. Does a woman feel her uterus rupturing? Absolutely. What does it feel like?

It is the most excruciating pain. I don't even know if words can describe it. It's like It's like somebody took a firecracker and just lit it off in your abdomen, but it's localized to one place and it's like it just it's like an ongoing fire. And you're out. It just hurts so bad and the pain is so intense that like, you feel sick, you feel nauseous, you start to sweat, like it's just there are no words to describe how bad it hurts. It is the most agonizing pain and it is not in your vagina. Like like dilation pain, or like a contraction. This pain doesn't let up. It goes like you feel it and then it gets worse. and worse and worse, like it's not the coming and going pain or tightening is just, it just hurts so bad.

What is exactly a uterine rupture? Where is the rupture occurring? What exactly is happening?

So it's when the uterus it just, it does exactly that it just rubs her ruptures the uterus tears, it just it opens and then the baby spill out into the abdominal cavity. And once the uterus tears, that's it like you you're the baby's going to be cut from oxygen, they're only going to have what is in their placenta, what's in their umbilical cord to utilize until they're out out of the moment.

Oh, now, now it clicked for me I'm getting asked that question. The baby goes into the abdominal cavity, there's varying degrees of uterine rupture. But when when you have a full rupture in the uterus completely opens, then yes, the baby parts of the baby or all of the baby can leave the uterus and enter the abdomen. And the placenta will separate from the uterine wall, the cord can get compressed all kinds of things bleeding in the mother, the mother can die because she can bleed out. And the baby is obviously under massive duress. Yes. And moms usually say when this is happening, moms usually say something they have a sense of impending doom, they know something has shifted, they know something is off, they know that they're experiencing a pain and a different way. And that's the first sign that a care provider is supposed to listen to. in labor. If if this is a concern, as all is, you know, there's something shifting in the mom, the way she's experiencing her pain, the way she's experienced hearing her labor, her facial expressions may change, her demeanor may change or she'll just say something is not right. And when you have a mother say that, and you see a heart rate in the 40s and 50s. I cannot fathom for one second. How you were not immediately taken aback for C section. I mean this this is like blatant malpractice. I don't think so obvious. I let me ask one more question about this. If you had had an epidural, would you give? Would you have felt anything because I know if a woman gets an epidural, they must have continuous monitoring. But I just want to stop for a minute and have our listeners appreciate another advantage to natural or physiologic birthing. Because one way I've said it over the years is you're in communication with the baby. And yes, you feel more. But like in the birthing or pushing stage, your body moves in response to where the baby is and what the baby is doing. And you're in this dance with the baby. But here's another benefit that when a woman like Trisha just said they're trained to listen to you, they're trained to look at your face. And that's good information coming from a woman. And when she has an epidural, she is robbed of feeling everything fully and providing that feedback. And then they only have the monitor to look at. But the woman is such a valuable piece of information. And she provides such effectiveness in her own birth when she's feeling everything. It is such an advantage. It's a safety advantage. It's a safety mechanism in a natural physiologic work. So you didn't have an epidural.

But you did a Pitocin. Right.

I mean, it's the worst of both worlds in a sense. I mean, really, and because Pitocin is so incredibly intense.

I've heard that you can feel it through the epidural like I've met other moms girl and that they still felt every bit of the rupture that it was still excruciating. Yeah,

I believe they still can have that. That intuitive sense of doom, that something is something really wrong has occurred. Did you make? Is there a lawsuit around this? Are you did you sue the doctor? Did you sue the hospital? I mean, it's so right. You try it and you're not successful? No, she redid my entire medical record, from start to finish to make it look like they did everything. And that they told me something was wrong, and that I denied care that I denied, denied, denied. But they tried everything they could to help me and then when I passed out, they were legally obligated to do a C section, which it's on paperwork, and there's more of them than there is a me and my husband so there was nothing lawyers could do. They said and it just it was really stressful to try and to try and do the whole process. We spent probably about eight months of my daughter's life the first eight months trying to build this lawsuit and it just came down to the fact that she put in the paperwork that she told me there was something wrong And I denied care.

What I don't understand about that is that the negligence wasn't that they gave you a C section against your will the issue is they ignored your plea for help. They changed the story. And I think that that, frankly, becomes an important component of the lawsuit that your records were changed, and they changed the story. So it's very painful, I'm sure for anyone listening to hear that they're trying to rob you of justice.

I also am having a hard time understanding how any provider it could how it could not be seen as negligence on their part, to sit there and let a baby have a heart rate in the 40s to 60s. Even if you even if you were a little bit out of it, or not able to express yourself clearly. How did they not insist that's their job to protect you in the baby? I agree. Were they not explaining things clearly to your husband, if you were in a state of mind where you weren't able to maybe communicate clearly, I'm sure you were under a lot of stress and not understanding what was happening.

I don't think they cared. Even the nurse like she just looked panicky and everything. She wasn't worried about the fact that Julian's heart rate was dropping, or that I was in pain, the only thing that she kept saying is I don't know how to deliver a baby, you're in push pain, she just kept saying that my pain was pushed pain, she would not listen, she insisted it was pushed pain. But I wasn't allowed to push, because she said that she had to wait for the doctor and she didn't know how to deliver a baby. So she was so focused on trying to keep Joe lean in that she just failed to realize, well, maybe her pain is real. And it's something else that maybe I should just, I should just humor her and maybe get an ultrasound or something just to check while I wait for the doctor like she could have done something, something. But she did nothing.

That's not a good scenario for them. Because normally what they have to show in court is that they did something normally they intervene too much and cause damage. And they have to defend themselves by saying, Well, we did something, but in your case, they neglected to do something. And frankly, it sounds like you have a case to go after them a different route is to sue them for a tampering with medical records. And going into it that way. But they did do an injustice to you, they did harm you, they did cost you your baby's healthy life. And, you know, we have a justice system in place for a reason. And this is what it's there for. Um, so I really hope that you have another path to get justice for this. I just don't understand it, um, in you. Your Instagram page is very compelling. We've had followers of ours, point us to it. And it's very hard to look away once you start watching it. Because you do a really good job at showing us your lifestyle. And a picture speaks 1000 words, but can you do your best to describe to everyone a normal day for you? A normal night for you? What has this done to your lifestyle?

It's really hard to put into words. It's it's changed our entire life, our entire dynamic, it's changed everything. Whereas before Joleen, we had three other kids but we used to just live very carefree and I always plan for futures and we were spontaneous. We used to go on trips, like every weekend. If the kids wanted to go to the park on a random Thursday night to have dinner, we could do that. I would spend tons of one on one time with each of each of my other children. Like we're very it's hard to explain but I would say like carefree and very like your normal family. But now, now we're not most of my time is focused on Jolene because she can't be left alone. She doesn't swallow so she has to be suctioned constantly. And her epilepsy is very severe. So if she gets tired, and she goes into having a seizure and somebody isn't watching her, she could kill her. So I have to be eyes on her all the time. The only time that I get without her is probably about 30 minutes after she goes to sleep, and I'm washing syringes. So I don't have a lot of time with my other children. We don't just get to go to the park to have dinner. We don't get to go on trips. We really don't get to go anywhere. We don't go grocery shopping anymore. We have groceries delivered. We really don't do anything outside the house if we do. It's really stressful. It takes a lot of planning a lot of packing. Making sure we have all the rescue meds in case As a seizure out, making sure she has a feeding tube so making sure I have all of her to bread tube feeds at a proper temperature. syringes, meds, like seats, everything like it's, it's stressful so we really just don't leave the house ever.

How old is Jolene and does she walk and speak? She's three and a half. She'll be four in January. She does not walk at all. She can't stand on her own either. She is completely nonverbal, but she does make sounds. She has sound cues rather than using words.

Tell us about Jolene. What is she like? What's her personality like?

And how old is she?

She's awesome. She's three and a half. She'll be four in January. And she is just so sassy. She is very opinionated. She knows what she likes, knows what she doesn't like. She's funny. She makes me laugh all the time. She's nonverbal, but she has a lot of sound cues and she makes lots of noises. She mimics certain vowels. She loves to play. And my favorite part about her is that she loves to snuggle like, she loves to snuggle me. She wants me to hold her all the time and not just hold her but I'll hold her and she'll just look me like the dead in my eyes. And it's just like, I can feel everything that she feels like I can feel her soul connecting with mine. Like I just love that she loves me so much like she is such a blessing. Like, I'm so lucky to have her. I love her so much. She is so funny and so sweet. And just, she's just such a cool little kid, for everything that she deals with. And everything that she has all of her disability she she doesn't let it like get her down. I see so many adults built their disabilities just get the best of them and she doesn't she just wakes up every day smiling and goes to bed every night smiling. She's just such a sweet, happy little girl.

You get financial assistance or any kind of support from the state. Yes, she does get Social Security and she gets health insurance through Medicaid.

But this is the job for more than one person. You I saw a reel where you have to watch her nap. You have to watch her sleeping and she started to have a seizure and you have to act immediately to save her life. One human being can't do this, if you hired a professional you would need multiple professionals. I mean, what is there anyone to actually help you do this? And you do have three other children to raise. So like are you alone doing all this? Pretty much my oldest daughter is homeschooled. So she can help out. I know that sounds terrible. It sounds unfair. Very untrue. But that's that's that's such as the life when one child in the household needs. I mean it it does affect everyone's life. It theoretically sounds unfair. But of course, this is also her life. There's no way for it not to be her life, too. How is she about that? What is how does that affect her? How has that changed her?

She said my oldest child You mean right? Yeah, yeah, she's really good with her. She's, she's really good. She's very good to her. She's really good in emergency situations. She's just, she does really good with it. I do. I have recently seen that. I think that the social aspect is kind of impacting her. We went to a football game my son's football game couple weeks ago. And she saw like her friends that she used to be friends with at school were all hanging out. And nobody said anything to her. So I think that she kind of misses having friends. I think that's pretty much she's 13 I think that's really the only part that really impacts her. She does really good with her lessons and her grades and focusing and all that. So she's doing really good in school. She's really good with her sister. She's learning a lot like she wants to. She wants to go to school when she's older to help kids like Julie and like she says she knows that she wants to be in special education, which I think that's awesome that it's given her like a sense of purpose in your life what she wants to do. Now, but And she also suffers the social aspect of being a teenager, she doesn't get the normal teenage life.

While she's growing up faster than most and it is a sacrifice to her that's also enriching her and bring her meaning. Yes, it was imagined that she's gonna grow up in a meaningful life and career because her heart and her understanding has been cracked open at a very young age. So this was her probably beautifully her whole life despite the sacrifice, it's costing her it's hard it's like so it's such a give and take like there's so many things that my other kids are learning from all this there's so much not even just knowledge but like compassion and feelings and how to look at other people how to treat other people and all that whereas before they didn't get the insight If that were if they saw somebody in a wheelchair, they would just like look away. But now they want to go up to the person and wheelchair and ask them how they're doing. Ask them they ate as if they need anything. So like their learnings, really great things. But it's also like they just don't get the normal childhood that other kids get. Like my five year old always talks about how her and her mom get to go to the trampoline park and they go do this and they go do that and they go out to dinner once a week and she likes grocery shopping with her mom and I'm like, well, like we just can't do that. That was a sacrifice we made when we decided to bring Jolene home with us and not send her to facility. It was a we all agreed that we would make sacrifices to keep Jolene home where she belongs.

Katie after your birth, what was explained to you about what happened? What did the doctor say? What did the nurses say? I'm sure you had so many questions about how this happened. Why it happened?

I got nothing. I ghosted. The doctor never I never saw her again. She never said a word. The nurse came back in the very next day. I remember the very next day, it was around nine o'clock in the morning, she sat on the edge of my bed. And she started laughing. She was like, I can't believe I didn't catch this. I teach about uterine ruptures to the girls in nursing school all the time. Like give it a thought that I would call it and the dark silence that filled that room was enough to just tell my husband to make my husband tell her that she just she needed to go. Your

husband heard the nurse say those words out loud. Yes, she he definitely was sitting right there on the couch. And he heard her say it. So he asked her to leave. And then we never saw her or anybody else on that team. Again. The only doctor we did see was the NICU Doctor Who was the one who saved Jolene. But other than that we didn't see anybody the rest of the day.

Can you talk about the moment of saving Gillian, what happened to their? Like, what, what was her status? How did you save her.

So he did not declare her dead. He worked on her. I wasn't awake. My husband wasn't in the room. The only thing I'm going off of was what is on the paper, he did multiple rounds of CPR. He pushed lots of epi. He did umbilical lines he worked for I don't remember exactly the time, so I'm not going to say it. But he worked for quite some time to bring her back enough to intubate her and then start cooling her to stop further brain damage. So he did. He did everything. He literally did every intervention that is available to try and save her like he did not give up on her at all.

So her heart came back. Her organs came back except her brain. Yes. How do you feel toward him? And that experience when you think about it, I feel like he is an angel. I hope that he lives a wonderful life full of amazing karma. And that all of his dreams come true. I wish nothing but the best for him. Like I we said that if Joey never makes it to age five, like we want to find him and like take her to him and show him. That's kind of it makes me emotional a bit but like show him that. Like he saved her. He didn't just give up on her like so many doctors would like you know, that that because of his efforts and him not giving up in him doing his job properly. He saved a child and gave a family made a family hole. Because like we really before drilling we really really wanted her like all of my other kids. I didn't get pregnant with on purpose. But Jolene like we we made her on purpose like we wanted her so bad. So like the fact that all this happened her makes it a little bit more hard. So it just we really want to take totalling to him and show him that what he did was amazing, and that there are no words that can thank him for what he did.

You mentioned also that you were given an option to have Jolene taken by the state

to go to a facility like it's like a nursing home for the disabled when a family doesn't want their disabled family member or they can't care for them. They go into like a like a group home. So nurses and aides will take care of them rather than the family.

Ask you a really, really difficult question that I'm guessing no one has ever had the nerve to ask because it's possibly not something you want to be asked and if you don't want to answer, don't answer it. But I want to hear I want to talk about Pitocin later because you have a message about that. But before we go there I just want to thoroughly We work to put ourselves exactly in your shoes. And there's one thing that I would love you to answer for those of us who are seeking to understand. You were told Julian's life expectancy is 13 years, I'm guessing that was a totally arbitrary number. And it could be drastically different from that number. I think they make these things up a lot. But you have this daughter that you adore, and you cherish, and you're so grateful. She's here. And I saw how a lot of what a happy, beautiful soul she is and how deeply like, she's so dependent on everyone to even swallow, but you're all like just smitten with her. deeply attached to her, and she's your whole world. But you are older, and in this life, we are meant to die before those who come after us. And it has to be quite terrifying. To have a child you love this much, whose life you save every hour of the day, and to even fathom her outliving you. So on one hand, you must wish she will live as long as humanly possible. And then the other you must have this frightening vision of her outliving you. If you don't want to talk about this, don't answer it. But can you help us get into the psyche of that parent? What is your best possible dream scenario? In this life, about Jolene, and how long she lives in relation to to you?

It's really hard. I think about that all the time. I go back and forth. Part of me wants her to go before me because I know that nobody could care for her. Like I care for her. And then part of me wants her to live as long as as long as she possibly can. It's hard. I don't think there's a right answer. I don't know what I would feel either way, but I definitely as much as I love Jolene. And as much as as I want her to live. I would rather her go before me is I know that sounds awful.

It does sound awful, because you love her. And because you know, you're you're the best thing for her. That doesn't sound awful. Because without you she would she would suffer like it's not that your dream would be to leave her to the state. So it's not, it's not awful. There's no judgement there, we're trying to just understand, because you're so aware that you are her source of love and life, think that she if I were to die before her, she would, she would lose a huge part of her and she just wouldn't be her anymore. Like even when I go shower and my husband has her. She just like she cries for me, he has to sit there and like hold her by the shower. So she can just watch me. So when we're not around each other, she's just not like, as happy as she normally is. So if I were to go before her, she would lose everything that makes her her. I don't feel like she would be her anymore. While other people could care for her. She just wouldn't have a quality of life anymore.

This is why we see this married couples who've been married for many, many, many, many years. And as soon as one passes, the other one passes within months of them because absence of that person who they are so attached to and so dependent on in their life is just for them. Life is it's too much suffering, it's too difficult. A broken heart, literally conduct that you can die from a broken heart. And sometimes, you know, when we know that somebody is going to suffer so much in the care that they receive or their life is going to be so severely altered. It seems less painful to go the other way. No, I agree. And that is a that's that's not something to feel bad or guilty about saying it's just it's real. And it's true. And we all have to face it in some areas of our life. But for you, when you were faced with the decision to keep dwelling in your life or to pass her off to the state, there clearly was no option.

Correct. I knew that she was going to come home with us. I didn't care what it took. I really wanted. I wanted her home. Like the second I laid eyes on her. I just I told the nurses I was like I will do whatever I have to do. I will take whatever classes you tell me I have to take like I'll make sure that I am suitable enough for you guys to feel comfortable releasing her to me like she she has to come home.

Now you're on a life mission not only to provide for your children and keep your family together and as happy as you possibly can be every day. That's clear. But you're also on a mission to save other lives. There's a gross injustice happening to millions and millions of American women and women around the world with respect to Pitocin Can you Please say all the things you like to take your megaphone, and please say what you want to say, because I have no doubt you're the expert on Pitocin. At this point, what do you want to say Pitocin should never be taken lightly, ever, whether it's a medical induction, or an elective induction, if, if you know you're going to receive Pitocin, you need to take a step back and do your own research, research everything. interview other doctors and interview nurses do full, full throttle research and look at Pitocin look at what it does to the body, look at what it's made of, look at all of the risk factors included. Look at all of the stories that went downhill like me, because of Pitocin. And and stop and think do I really want to put myself in that position? Do I really want to risk dying, having my baby die, having my child's life completely altered, having just going through all this trauma, for what, for what it's just Pitocin is just such a harsh drug, like you guys know, it's just a synthetic form of oxytocin. And what it does is it forces the body to contract its forces the uterus to contract, but the uterus needs time to relax in between contractions. But when receiving Pitocin, you're not getting that relaxed period. So while the uterus needs time to relax, to regain, and you know, rest, some, so does your baby, if your uterus is contracting, your baby isn't getting oxygen. So there's two things that are ultimately suffering. When you're getting Pitocin, your baby and your uterus. There's just so many things that could go wrong, getting Pitocin. And it's best just to at least know the risk factors. Go over it with your provider, make sure you get it in writing, if you do not want Pitocin put it in writing and make sure that they know because I've read so many stories where women like fell asleep. And the nurses were just giving the the woman Pitocin. Anyway, I had a lady tell me that she lost her baby because they told her that she was getting fluids. But she read the bag and it was Pitocin. And she said that her uterus is never let go let go like it was just contracting, contracting, contracting. And she said that her rupture was so severe that she immediately went out, like, this drug is taken so lightly, and providers are just saying, Oh, it's safe. It's fine. Everybody gets it. You know, don't worry about it. There's hardly any risk factors. But it's not true. There are so many risk factors to it.

Katie, you obviously are connected to a community of women who have had similar adverse experiences with Pitocin, whether it's to themselves or their baby, or both. How many women do you know, that have had uterine ruptures as a result of Pitocin. And how many of those mothers have lost their babies?

At least 50, at least 50 women who've had ruptures. I just did the tally the other day. So it's a minimum of 50. And two of them have lost their babies, multiple if there's a lot of groups on Facebook in regards to HIV.

Lots of those in regards to HIV. Wait, wait, wait. Start again. If there are a lot of groups on site again, send I'll just so there are lots of groups on Facebook, about HIV, which is hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy encephalopathy, which is what my daughter has. And that's where the baby's brain is deprived of oxygen. And most of those women in those groups, their common factor and why their child suffered is due to Pitocin. But the women that I know, personally that I talk to on social media, there is a tally of 50, which I'm sure there are way more if I go through those groups, because I want to after I had Julene I just kept trying to find out like how many other like me how many other women are like me? No. And that's when I found out like there's lots of lots of other people who have children with HIV that are calls from Pitocin.

So going back to your birth, your labor management, did you notice anything in your birth records about how the Pitocin was dosed?

There's nothing in there Pitocin is completely left out.

What Wait, what? No, yeah, no, there's nothing. There's nothing in there about Pitocin at all.

There is nothing in your labor and delivery records that say that you were given Pitocin You mean they manipulated your medical records that dramatically that they took Pitocin off the chart? I was just asked this question a couple weeks ago and I just I couldn't find it. I can't find it at all.

You have a serious lawsuit.

You Got that aren't my records are just, they're all over the disaster.

This is It's so insane. It sounds like what where was this? Where did this birth take place?

It was in Haymarket, Virginia at Haymarket Medical Center. I've got, I came in contact with a couple other women, too, who were delivered by the same doctor who said the same thing about her that she just, she's awful. She's, she's in the wrong line of work. She's not compassionate. She's very opinionated. She's very, like, hurry up and get your baby out. So I can get on my way. Like she's very, she's very mean very mean, I looked at reviews on her, like I said, and talked to other people. And she just, she's just awful. I just, I wish you just somebody, I wish all of us could just come together and just stripped her of her license, she just, she doesn't deserve to deliver a baby, she's in the wrong line of work. She doesn't deserve it.

So this story is very difficult for people to hear, it's very difficult for us to listen to, it's very difficult for you to share. But it is an important reality of a drug that is abused and overused. In this country, and in many parts of the world. It's also a drug that is sometimes necessary and needed. Sometimes the risks of keeping a baby in are greater than the risks of Pitocin. More often than not, it's used very casually and without consideration for the risks. This episode might scare a lot of women who are thinking about having an induction or have a planned induction upcoming induction or need an induction. What advice would you have for them, if they choose to have Pitocin.

I always say, if you're having a medical induction, if your baby truly needs to come out and Pitocin is the best route for you to go to get your baby out, you should definitely, definitely do it. But talk to your doctor, get it in writing about starting at a low dose if you start at a low dose and see if it kind of kickstart your uterus into doing what it's supposed to do. Because that was what Pitocin was created for is just to kind of kickstart the body into going into labor on its own. So you can start at the very lowest the lowest dose. And if your body doesn't catch on, then maybe you titrate up just a tad every couple hours until your body catches on. Just start low and slow. And make sure that the nurses and the doctors that everybody knows that you want to start low and slow, don't let them just put you on a drip and titrate you up to like 30 within the first hour, just low and slow. And if you want an elective induction because you just want to have a baby.

Reconsider? Yeah, I'm very opinionated on this just because of everything that's happened. I just wish that women would wait until they're at that 41 week mark. And then maybe just ask about the Foley balloon ask about how about waiting until you go into labor? Right? I mean, even even beyond 41, it is okay to take right? Beyond 42 is usually where the question comes. But even the FDA has an opinion on this, Katie. So you're certainly entitled to even the FDA says don't do this. This drug has been around for decades, around 70 years or something, and they still don't have the comfort level with it, to approve it for the elective induction of labor. It's been off label.

That is a fact and think about why they don't approve something.

That's the I guess I'm just saying recklessly approve things and they still don't approve this. So can you imagine what their thresholds and their standards?

Yeah, I'm just saying the FDA is not the most trusted resource on this.

I will I think the FDA is reckless. And it's pretty interesting when they say about a pharmaceutical drug, no to the pharmaceutical drug. We all know why they're not supporting herbal remedies and things like that. You know, this whole conversation of when something happens very rarely. I think we need to talk about more, because you're always hearing rhetoric, like oh, the benefit far outweighs the risk with things like that. We have an episode just today about that topic, actually. But um, you're always hearing things like you know, the benefit outweighs the risk. I remember when I had the screening for Down syndrome when in my first pregnancy, this screening came back, the chances were like one in many 1000s I don't remember the number anymore. And I'll never forget my high intervention Doctor Who I later fired said, Well, you could be that one. When she should have said the odds of Down syndrome appear very, very low here. She said, Well, you could be that one. So we recommend you do the next test the conclusive tax test, which actually presented a risk of, of loss in itself. But it's an interesting that when it comes to life, death, brain damage, we're never saying to women, well, please take heart please think heavily about this, the odds are very, very low, but you could be that one. So she was trying to sell me the next test that presented a risk of loss a point 5% risk of loss was very unethical. But why do we say that when everything you know, why don't we say that to women, like even if a woman really is better off being induced, let's say with preeclampsia, she should really be considering induction for sure, because there is a life and death situation at hand, they still need to say, these are the risks. And there are dozens of risks with Pitocin, very serious ones. When it comes to uterine rupture, they should say this is a very small risk, I wish they would provide the percentage. I don't know what it is, but it's very low, but they should show it and say, but you could be that one, you need to be at peace, taking on all of these risks with the potential benefits. But they don't do that. In this case, they poopoo the risks, because it serves their motivation. Just as your doctor it served her to do an amniocentesis that gives her more information. It's another test they can bill for its and then it serves the doctors to induce women with Pitocin because it creates fits their narrative schedule, you know, it helps be there, it helps keep their things moving through the system. So they it's, it's, you know, their, their perspective is swayed based on their needs. Unfortunately, it's not non biased. It's not non coercive language. It's not a level playing field. There's persuasion bias in there. Always. So this is why women have to advocate for themselves. One other thing I just wanted to add to, to the discussion we were having about, you know, what you might share with women is around that feeling that you had when something was wrong, ya know, stand up for yourself if you feel like something is wrong, even before the whole thing starts say it. I had impending doom, like two months before it happened. I wish I had I just kept convincing myself it was just birthday anxiety. It's just fine. It's fine. It's just anxiety. You're just you're scared. But it wasn't that it wasn't that it was my intuition telling me that something is is wrong. Something's about to happen. And I wish I had been more vocal about that. Definitely never let anybody step on your toes if you feel like something is wrong make somebody listen call literally call the higher up to the hospital like just make them listen. Somebody has to listen. I wish I had been way more vocal.

Thank you for joining us at the Down To Birth Show. You can reach us @downtobirthshow on Instagram or email us at Contact@DownToBirthShow.com. All of Cynthia’s classes and Trisha’s breastfeeding services are offered live online, serving women and couples everywhere. Please remember this information is made available to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is in no way a substitute for medical advice. For our full disclaimer visit downtobirthshow.com/disclaimer. Thanks for tuning in, and as always, hear everyone and listen to yourself.

I think 30 on Instagram, and 160 on Tik Tok.

Oh, that's impressive.

I just want I don't even care about people following No, I just want people to hear the message. I just want people to be inspired. And like other special needs parents to know that they're not alone. This life can sometimes be shit, it can be hard. If we don't have to do it alone. Like there are lots of other moms that I've met in the process of sharing. And they said that, like because of my page like they've been able to get their kids like the services they need things that they need. Like I've been able to help a mom go through the process of being a paid caregiver. Like I just want to help other people like me like I feel like I'm at a steady point in this journey where I'm not searching for answers. I'm not searching for help. I'm, I'm not searching for anything anymore. So I just want to give back all the knowledge that I've gained and all the help that I've gained. I just want to I just want to give it all back.

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About Cynthia Overgard

Cynthia is a published writer, advocate, childbirth educator and postpartum support specialist in prenatal/postpartum healthcare and has served thousands of clients since 2007. 

About Trisha Ludwig

Trisha is a Yale-educated Certified Nurse Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Counselor. She has worked in women's health for more than 15 years.

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