Oxytocin regimen for labor augmentation, labor progression, and perinatal outcomes

Obstet Gynecol. 2011 Aug;118(2 Pt 1):249-256. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e3182220192.


Objective: To examine the effects and safety of high-dose (compared with low-dose) oxytocin regimen for labor augmentation on perinatal outcomes.

Methods: Data from the Consortium on Safe Labor were used. A total of 15,054 women from six hospitals were eligible for the analysis. Women were grouped based on their oxytocin starting dose and incremental dosing of 1, 2, and 4 milliunits/min. Duration of labor and a number of maternal and neonatal outcomes were compared among these three groups stratified by parity. Multivariable logistic regression and generalized linear mixed model were used to adjust for potential confounders.

Results: Oxytocin regimen did not affect the rate of cesarean delivery or other perinatal outcomes. Compared with 1 milliunit/min, the regimens starting with 2 milliunits/min and 4 milliunits/min reduced the duration of first stage by 0.8 hours (95% confidence interval 0.5-1.1) and 1.3 hours (1.0-1.7), respectively, in nulliparous women. No effect was observed on the second stage of labor. Similar patterns were observed in multiparous women. High-dose regimen was associated with a reduced risk of meconium stain, chorioamnionitis, and newborn fever in multiparous women.

Conclusion: High-dose oxytocin regimen (starting dose at 4 milliunits/min and increment of 4 millliunits/min) is associated with a shorter duration of first-stage of labor for all parities without increasing the cesarean delivery rate or adversely affecting perinatal outcomes.

Level of evidence: II.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / etiology
  • Labor Onset / drug effects
  • Labor, Induced*
  • Obstetric Labor Complications
  • Oxytocics / administration & dosage*
  • Oxytocin / administration & dosage*
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Oxytocics
  • Oxytocin