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Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1997 Jul;104(7):781-6.

Routine oxytocin in the third stage of labour: a placebo controlled randomised trial.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, County Hospital, Ostersund, Sweden.



To compare intravenous oxytocin administration (Partocon 10 IU) with saline solution in the management of postpartum haemorrhage in the third stage of labour.


A double-blind, randomised controlled trial involving 1000 parturients with singleton fetuses in cephalic presentation and undergoing vaginal delivery, randomly allocated to treatment with oxytocin (n = 513) or 0.9% saline solution (n = 487).


Labour ward at a central county hospital.


Mean blood loss (total, and before and after placenta delivery); frequencies of blood loss > 800 mL, need of additional oxytocic treatment, postpartum haemoglobin < 10 g/dL; and duration of postpartum hospitalisation.


As compared with saline solution, oxytocin administration was associated with significant reduction in mean total blood loss (407 versus 527 mL), and in frequencies of postpartum haemorrhage > 800 mL (8.8% versus 5.2%), additional treatment with metylergometrine (7.8% versus 13.8%), and postpartum Hb < 10 g/dL (9.7% versus 15.2%), and a nonsignificant increase in the frequency of manual placenta removal (3.5% versus 2.3%). There was no group difference in the mean duration of postpartum hospitalisation (4.6 versus 4.5 days, respectively).


Administration of intravenous oxytocin in the third stage of labour is associated with an approximately 22% reduction in mean blood loss, and approximately 40% reductions in frequencies of postpartum haemorrhage (> 500 mL or > 800 mL) and of postpartum haemoglobin < 10 g/dL. Identification of risk groups for oxytocin treatment does not seem worthwhile. Oxytocin is a cheap atoxic drug and should be given routinely after vaginal delivery.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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