Cytotec for Labor Induction

Off-Label Use of Cytotec: Drawbacks to Popular Labor-Inducing Drug by Christine Climer, RN The rate of labor induction has reached an all-time high in the United States, with estimates climbing as high as 33.7 percent of all pregnancies. Inductions may be performed in cases where continuing a pregnancy presents clear health and safety risks to a mother or her fetus. There are many approaches physicians may take to ripen the cervix and induce labor. One medication that has become popular in recent years for cervical ripening is Cytotec. Typically a pill is broken in half or quarters, and one of the pieces is inserted into the cervix every few hours until the cervix is ready for labor. Incomplete information The problem with this is that many women are not given complete information about the medication before they consent to its use. Labor induction is an off-label use of Cytotec. This means that it was developed, researched and approved for another purpose. The manufacturer's label for Cytotec only permits it to be used to prevent stomach ulcers in patients who take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or aspirin on a long-term basis. When a physician uses a drug off-label, he is determining the safety and efficacy himself as opposed to relying on a large, thorough scientific investigation. A few investigations have been undertaken that compare Cytotec to other medications that are actually approved for the purpose of cervical ripening and labor induction. These studies have demonstrated that although Cytotec appears to be equally effective as the other medications, there are some serious risks. Although women who have been given Cytotec may sometimes progress more quickly than those who have been given some of the other approved medications, they are also more likely to experience certain complications. Cytotec causes hyperstimulation of the uterus, which can lead to complications including fetal distress, amniotic embolism, uterine rupture, fetal death and postpartum hemorrhage. The risk of uterine rupture is further increased in mothers who have previously had a cesarean delivery. Manufacturer warnings Searle, the manufacturer of Cytotec was so concerned about this off-label use that it issued a letter to physicians in August 2000. The letter acknowledged these complications and urged physicians to follow their approved prescribing instructions. Searle also stated that it "has not conducted research concerning the use of Cytotec for cervical ripening prior to termination of pregnancy or for induction of labor, nor does Searle intend to study or support these uses." Gentle Birth Choices Get the facts Before you consent to the use of any medication, make sure you know the facts. You should know: -what all the possible treatment options are -what the medication is, how it works and how much you will be given -how long it takes to work and how long its effects will last -what purpose the FDA approved the medication for -what side effects the medication is expected to have on you and your baby -what complications have been documented to occur with the use of the medication -how much more often the complications occur with this medication as opposed to other medications or no medications at all. If you are ever uncertain, ask your doctor or pharmacist to show you the manufacturer's prescribing information. This article is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to serve as medical advice or as a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be interpreted as recommendation for treatment. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your child, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider before using any health information. © Christine Climer About the Author: Christine Climer is a registered nurse with experience in pulmonary disease, pediatrics, home health, hospice and early childhood education. She specializes in the promotion of child and family health through her private practice,, in Dallas, Texas. Christine also volunteers as health and wellness editor for Sheryl's comment This is a perfect example of what unscrupulous doctors and midwives are doing to birthing women to expel their babies from them as fast as possible at any cost. Who in their right mind started using an ulcer drug to induce labor? What is wrong with these people? It is insanity! How many women would agree to a dangerous drug being used on them and their helpless fetus if they knew even the drug manufacturer wrote letters in an attempt to get these crazy butchers to stop the madness? What I can't wrap my mind around is that this practice is legal! I think the biggest message for birthing women is that doctors and midwives will harm you to get your baby out and nobody and I mean nobody is going to protect you except yourself and your spouse. The easiest (and only) way to avoid these immoral and reprehensible practices is to have an unassisted childbirth. Buy the Book: Gentle Birth Choices Image Source:

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Comments 16
  • John Masters
    John Masters

    Interesting stuff here

  • Wendy CPM
    Wendy CPM

    Sheryl said:
    “The easiest (and only) way to avoid these immoral and reprehensible practices is to have an unassisted childbirth.”

    You shouldn’t have to go totally unassisted to avoid Cytotec. I don’t believe that there is any state that would allow the use of Cytotec for induction at home. Any provider who would do that would be illegally using the drug. A homebirth with a midwife would be an excellent way to avoid this sort of intervention.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking blog!

    July 31, 2007 12:01 AM

  • Sheryl Lyon
    Sheryl Lyon

    Thanks for stopping by Barbara!

    I will check out your book when I get the chance! Here is the Gentle Birth Choices linkfor anyone else who wants to check it out!

    July 26, 2007 7:44 AM

  • Barbara Harper
    Barbara Harper

    I highly suggest you look at the new and updated version of my book, Gentle Birth Choices, which now comes with a FREE DVD of the famous movie, Gentle Birth Choices. For only $20 it is the bargin of the century!!

    Keep up the great blog.

    Barbara Harper
    Founder/Waterbirth International

    July 20, 2007 5:58 PM

  • Narconon Vista Bay
    Narconon Vista Bay

    giving ulcer drug to induce labor of a pregnant women!i was stunned & petrified after i read Ur post.this madness have to be stopped.

  • Nicky

    This is just too typical for the pharmaceutic industry! They give out so called “legal drugs” which are fatal in some cases. The best way to induce labor is just walking the stairs! And please no drugs at all for mothers to be.

  • Jim Smith
    Jim Smith

    Thank you for sharing this very thought provoking article. I found it very interesting. I think that the issue of drug addiction is a very large and important one. I think that drug rehab centers are doing a lot to resolve this issue. I think that more people should be aware of the effects of drug addiction. Anyway… I just wanted to put that out there. This article was incredibly easy to understand and I really enjoyed it.

  • Tom

    Very nice blogpost. I didn’t know the pill’s name was Cytotec, glad to have learned something new ^^

  • Technique for Natural Childbirth ~ Natural Induction
    Technique for Natural Childbirth ~ Natural Induction

    […] * On a side note ~ I will be doing a post later about this but I want to mention it here ~ NEVER allow your doctor to use Cytotec to induce your labor. Put it in your birth plan, verbally tell everyone you DO NOT WANT CYTOTEC * […]

  • Christina Davison
    Christina Davison

    My doctor used cytotec for my induction because I was sick of being pregnant. It was awesome birth experience. Would encourage all women to ask their dr’s for this treatment.

  • MrBloom

    Can this pill also be bought online as a generic, or am I wrong on this one?

  • David

    I found this page as I was trying to spell the name of the drug. Thanks for the info. We had planned to have a home birth. My wife developed Preeclampsia and the midwife sent us straight to the hospital. We were 3 weeks early. They started her on Magnesium Sulfate to prevent seizures,stroke…(This is a great product for producing burning feelings in your IV arm and then swelling in eyelids and then hands and such) Our Dr. after the ultrasound came back positive and with an estimated 5 pound baby. She discussed with us that the drug she was going to use had a black label on it to not use with a pregnant person as it will induce labor. They started inducing at 9 PM and at 12:45 PM (yes, almost 16 hours), it had helped out with efacing but only increase from <1cm to 3cm. They broke the water and we delivered at 1:18 PM. No Pain Meds. A healthy baby girl, 4 lbs 9 oz-(9 apgar) Born Sunday, released Tuesday! The net result for us was healthy baby, healthy mom, no 3-4 week hospital stay on anti-seizure meds. This is our 3rd child and we shouldn't have been at risk for preeclampsia, but we can only guess that God wanted her to come early so that there was another person on the Census. just kidding.

  • Netbone

    What i do not realize is in fact how you’re no longer actually a lot more neatly-appreciated than you may be now. You are very intelligent. You realize therefore considerably relating to this subject, produced me in my view consider it from numerous various angles. Its like men and women are not interested unless it?s something to accomplish with Girl gaga! Your own stuffs excellent. All the time maintain it up!

  • Mima

    I can’t disagree more with some of these comments…both of my granchildren came safely and NOT SO QUICKLY with the use of Cytotec. There mom’s cervix just wouldn’t budge…neither was born at the “convenience” of the doctor and had she not had the medicine she’d have ended up in the OR…and really…unassisted childbirth is NOT for everyone. I can’t imagine ever forgiving myself if I stayed at home to have my baby and that child ended up in distress that could have easily been averted at a hospital. People really.

  • Kyra Esenwein
    Kyra Esenwein

    What exactly I wanted, looks like 2 hrs at this point!

  • Susan

    When I had my first child I was in labor for 18 hours. I used aromatherapy to relax myself and make it through. I continued after I gave birth, and practiced aromatherapy for my entire second pregnancy. I was much more relaxed going into labor, and this one only lasted 3 hours. My favorite way to practice aromatherapy is with herbal incense. I would recommend this advice for any women
    who are pregnant.

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