Graduation Year

Spring 2012

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Biology

Reader 1

Jessica L. Malisch

Reader 2

Elise Ferree

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2012 Megan J. Lewis

Abstract

Rates of labor induction and augmentation have been increasing in recent decades (Glantz, 2005). According to the Listening to Mothers II survey, half of all labors in the U.S. are induced or augmented with Pitocin or other synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin (Declercq et al., 2006). Oxytocin, a naturally occurring hormone released in the pituitary gland, is involved in the stimulation of uterine contractions during labor and in the milk ejection reflex during breastfeeding, and research suggests it also has various effects on the brain, such as eliciting maternal behavior. However, studies have shown that exogenous oxytocin can interfere with the natural production and regulation of oxytocin and can have adverse effects on the fetus and mother. Therefore, I predict that the induction or augmentation of labor with Pitocin will negatively affect breastfeeding following birth. The proposed study will compare LATCH scores, used in hospitals to measure postpartum breastfeeding success, of dyads exposed to intravenous Pitocin prior to birth with control dyads that had no exposure to Pitocin during labor. It is hypothesized that dyads exposed to Pitocin will have significantly lower LATCH scores than controls. Given the countless health benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and infant, the results of this study will have important implications for the evaluation of common practices during labor and birth.

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