“Pit to Distress”: A Disturbing Reality (via Nursing Birth)

I wanted to share this blog that I came across today. It’s written by a L&D nurse and this particular post deals with the practice of using “pit to distress” in maternity wards.

What really mortifies me the most about this is that the babies’ well-being is on the line, as well as the mothers’. Using Pitocin to induce fetal distress (whether or not the intent is to induce a c-section or whether the doctor is just in a hurry) completely goes against every ethical standard a doctor should stand for. It’s quite disturbing.

Dear NursingBirth,   I just saw a couple of posts about “pit to distress” on Unnecessarean and Keyboard Revolutionary’s blogs. Can you comment on that as an L&D nurse?! Is the intent really to distress the baby in order to “induce” a c-section?  I’m distressed that such things may actually happen, and am holding out a little hope that it’s a misunderstanding in terms….   Thanks!!! Alev  

Dear Alev,

I wish I could put your heart and mind at ease and tell you, from experience, that this type of outrageous activity (i.e. “pit to distress”) does not happen in our country’s maternity wards but unfortunately it does. I know that it does because:

1) I have read and heard stories from other labor and delivery nurses who have worked with birth attendants who practice “pit to distress,”

2) I have read and heard stories from women (and their doulas!) who have personally experienced the consequences of “pit to distress,”

and, most importantly…

3) I personally have worked with attending obstetricians who subscribe to this philosophy.

Before I start my discussion on this topic I would like to quote a blog post I wrote back in April entitled “Don’t Let This Happen To You #25 PART 2 of 2: Sarah & John’s Unnecessary Induction”. This post is actually the first post I ever wrote for my Injustice in Maternity Care Series. It is a TRUE story (although all identifying information has been changed to adhere to HIPPA regulations) about a first time mom who was scheduled for a completely unnecessary labor induction and the following excerpt is a good example of how “pit to distress” is ordered by physicians, EVEN IF they don’t actually write it out as an order (although some actually do!)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“…At 1:30pm, right on schedule, Dr. F came into the room. After some quick small talk he asked Sarah to get into the bed so that he could perform a vaginal exam and break her water.

Sarah: “Umm, I was hoping we could wait a little bit longer to do that, until I am in more active labor.”

Dr. F: “Well, if I break your water it is really going to rev things up and put you into active labor.”

Sarah: “I’d really rather wait.”

Dr. F: (visibly frustrated) “Well I at least have to check you!”

Read More

via Nursing Birth

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