Difference Between Pitocin and Oxytocin?

What's the difference between pitocin and oxytocin?
profile picture of Robert Wool, MD
ByRobert Wool, MD
OB-GYN
Updated
Mar 2017
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Oxytocin is a naturally occurring hormone in your body. Pitocin is the synthetic drug created to mimic one of this hormone’s primary actions: bringing about labor. But, to make things more confusing, know that Pitocin is considered the brand name of this drug, and there’s also a generic version that is simply called oxytocin.

Your doctor may suggest using Pitocin to induce labor if you’re significantly past your delivery date, if your water has broken but you still haven’t begun contractions or if an epidural has slowed your labor down. The medication is typically given via an intravenous (IV) pump. If possible, talk to your doctor well in advance of your due date to help determine his or her stance on if and when you may require this medication, and what to expect if you do.

Pitocin is also sometimes used to control bleeding or expel the placenta after delivery, get milk flowing for breastfeeding or shrink the uterus after a miscarriage.

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