Physiologic and Synthetic Oxytocin in the Third Stage of Labor

Elise N. Erickson PhD CNM

Physiologic childbirth is typically followed by a physiologic third stage of labor. However, postpartum hemorrhage still affects an important subset of women, even following physiologic childbirth. Oxytocin is a primary hormone controlling postpartum bleeding and has a pharmacologic role as well in controlling/preventing postpartum hemorrhage. This presentation will review current literature examining midwifery outcomes of physiologic and dysfunctional labor and the role of active management of the third stage of labor. It will also present other areas of variation between women on the biologic level that may make oxytocin work differently between women. Gaps in scientific knowledge will be highlighted as well as ongoing epigenetic research.

Presenter Bio:

Elise Erickson has been a CNM since 2005, beginning her career in Chicago. She now studies oxytocin function in the postpartum period as an assistant professor at Oregon Health and Science University. She has current NIH funding to study oxytocin receptor DNA methylation in postpartum women. She also serves as a midwifery faculty member, caring for women and teaching student midwives.