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A component of the Canadian Medication Incident Reporting and Prevention System (CMIRPS).

SafeMedicationUse Newsletter

What You Need to Know about Oxytocin to Start or Advance Labour


5 Questions Oxytocin

Oxytocin is a hormone that is produced naturally by the body during labour to make the uterus contract. It is also available as a medication that can be given to start or speed up labour. The "Oxytocin to Start or Advance Labour: 5 Questions to Ask" handout is now available. It describes the benefits and risks of oxytocin and can help pregnant individuals and their support person have conversations with their health care team. received a report from a person who was given oxytocin without their knowledge. After being in labour for more than 12 hours, they asked for an epidural to help with pain relief and sleep. Upon waking up later, they noticed that the nurse was adding oxytocin into the IV line. The medication caused the baby to become distressed, and a cesarean section was required. has the following tips for expectant parents:

  • Read through "Oxytocin to Start or Advance Labour: 5 Questions to Ask" handout to learn more about this medication.
  • Talk to your doctor and/or midwife before the expected delivery about the benefits and risks of, as well as the need for, oxytocin. Continue to ask questions if anything is unclear, including during the delivery.
  • Learn how you and your baby will be monitored. Your contractions, blood pressure, and heart rate will be checked regularly. The baby's heart rate will also be closely followed if you receive oxytocin.

Medication safety bulletins contribute to Global Patient Safety Alerts

This newsletter was developed in collaboration with Best Medicines Coalition and Patients for Patient Safety Canada.

Recommendations are shared with healthcare providers, through the ISMP Canada Safety Bulletin, so that changes can be made together.

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