There are many different definitions for the word drug. Many women choose artificial drugs in labour (ie an epidural) probably unaware of the vast array of natural drugs your body produces in a natural, physiological birth where no chemicals are injected or absorbed into the body.

drug (drug)

1. a chemical substance that affects the processes of the mind or body.

Which drugs should you choose for your labor?

Natural oxytocin-

Oxytocin is the hormone that causes the uterus to contract during labour. Levels of oxytocin gradually increase throughout labour, and are highest around the time of birth, when it contributes to the euphoria and receptiveness to her baby that a mother usually feels after an unmedicated birth. This peak, which is triggered by sensations of stretching of the birth canal as the baby is born, does not occur when an epidural is in place. Administration of an epidural has been found to interfere with bonding between ewes and their newborn lambs.” Sarah Buckley

Hey, that sounds kind of nice! Euphoria and loving that baby!

Artificial Oxytocin – aka Syntocin

Syntocin is used to induce and speed up labours at hospitals around the world in alarming rates (and also known overseas as Pitocin). Its known side effects are:

“The following adverse reactions have been reported in the mother:

  • Anaphylactic reaction
  • Premature ventricular contractions
  • Postpartum hemorrhage
  • Pelvic hematoma
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Fatal afibrinogenemia
  • Hypertensive episodes
  • Nausea
  • Rupture of the uterus
  • Vomiting

Endorphins

“In addition to decreased feelings of pain, secretion of endorphins leads to feelings of euphoria, modulation of appetite, release of sex hormones, and enhancement of the immune response. With high endorphin levels, we feel less pain and fewer negative effects of stress.” Via medicinenet.com

Decreased pain in labour! Release of sex hormones….this sounds good. Of course you could always opt for an epidural….

Bupivacaine, a drug common in epidurals

“Spinal anesthesia may alter the forces of parturition through changes in uterine contractility or maternal expulsive efforts. Spinal anesthesia has also been reported to prolong the second stage of labor by removing the parturient’s reflex urge to bear down or by interfering with motor function. The use of obstetrical anesthesia may increase the need for forceps assistance.”
(Don’t worry, there are actually more side effects than this)

Or chloroprocaine, another common epidural drug.

“Adverse reactions in the parturient, fetus and neonate involve alterations of the central nervous system, peripheral vascular
tone and cardiac function.
Maternal hypotension has resulted from regional anesthesia. Local anesthetics produce vasodilation by blocking sympathetic nerves. Elevating the patient’s legs and positioning her on her left side will help prevent decreases in blood pressure. The fetal heart rate also should be monitored continuously, and electronic fetal monitoring is highly advisable.
Epidural, paracervical, or pudendal anesthesia may alter the forces of parturition through changes in uterine contractility or maternal expulsive efforts. In one study, paracervical block anesthesia was associated with a decrease in the mean duration of first stage labor and facilitation of cervical dilation.
However, epidural anesthesia has also been reported to prolong the second stage of labor by removing the parturient’s reflex urge to bear down or by interfering with motor function. The use of obstetrical anesthesia may increase the need for forceps assistance.
The use of some local anesthetic drug products during labor and delivery may be followed by diminished muscle strength and tone for the first day or two of life. The long-term significance of these observations is unknown.”

So which drugs do you want to use in labour – the ones your own body produces during an undisturbed and euphoric birth, or do you want the drugs that have package inserts and warnings?