An induction with Pitocin means your doctor or midwife will induce your labor using a medicine called Pitocin, which is a synthetic version of oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone that your body naturally produces to induce contractions, as well as serving as the famous “love” hormone.
Pitocin is delivered through an IV in your arm and your nurse will gradually raise the level of Pitocin you are receiving until you are having regular contractions about every 2-3 minutes. At that point, your Pitocin will either be left on until you deliver, adjusted if your contractions become too strong or fast or taper off, or your nurse may actually shut off the Pitocin all together. Sometimes, the Pitocin is enough to “kick” your body in natural labor on its own.
No induction will start with Pitocin unless your cervix is favorable. And what does that mean? Essentially, a “favorable” cervix is one that’s already gearing up for labor.
If your body is nowhere near ready to have a baby, your cervix will be “closed, thick, and high,” meaning it won’t be dilated or effaced at all. It will also still be facing “backwards.”
As your body preps for labor, your cervix softens and opens. It “rotates” to the front to get in the right position for letting your baby out.
You can’t be induced with Pitocin unless your cervix is ready, because Pitocin won’t change your cervix. Pitocin can induce contractions, but unless your cervix is prepped and ready to go, those contractions aren’t going to actually do anything.
It’s kind of like how you need to warm up an engine before it’s ready to go. Without the prep work, it’s just not going to work properly.
Doctors “rate” a woman’s cervix with a Bishop’s score before deciding if she is ready for an induction. Anything less than a six means her cervix may not be ready for labor. If your cervix is ready, however, it’s time for Pitocin!