Awesome Facts About Oxytocin and Why you need to feel safe and loved for an effective labour

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Here is a few facts about Oxytocin, my most favourite hormone,which is released during birth and breastfeeding amongst other things:

#1:

Oxytocin is released in pulses, and the more pulses the more effects seen from the hormone. Baby’s suckling triggers these pulses, which improves milk production and release.

#2:

A surge of oxytocin is released as a baby is being born (due to stretching of receptors in the lower vagina), and baby’s oxytocin levels are high at birth, as well.

#3:

The highest peak of oxytocin in a woman’s lifetime is right after her baby is born, but before the placenta is delivered – we can maximise the hormone’s potential by placing baby skin to skin with mum and leaving the two undisturbed during the time.

#4:

Skin to skin contact increases oxytocin release – whether it’s mother and baby right after birth, dad massaging his infant, or mum and dad holding hands.

#5:

Speaking of birth, an epidural can impact the effects of oxytocin by blocking the pathways it travels. Since oxytocin increases your pain threshold, the epidural may not even be needed.

#6:

Prolactin, the milk-making hormone, is dependent on oxytocin for its production. The levels of these two hormones are strongly correlated during breastfeeding.

#7:

Oxytocin helps mothers interact with their babies. Oxytocin levels correlate with the amount of mother baby interaction, and both benefit from its effects.

#8:

When a baby kneads at the breast, oxytocin is released – so let your baby hug the breast during feeding rather than tucking or swaddling those hands away.

#9:

Oxytocin release can be hindered by a stressful environment, as fight-or-flight hormones inhibit oxytocin. But if someone feels emotionally supported, calm _and warm, the environment works in favour of her hormones.

#10:

Oxytocin helps your body use nutrients through digestion, and aids in transferring those nutrients into breastmilk (and to the fetus during pregnancy).

#11:

Oxytocin has direct effects on brain growth, especially the neocortex of the newborn.

#12:

Oxytocin is released during orgasm (male and female). Orgasm has a host of physical and emotional health benefits, so don’t forget to give your partner the nudge now and again!

#13:

Problems with the oxytocin system have been implicated in mental health issues, such as schizophrenia, drug dependency and suicide.

#14:

Positive effects of oxytocin exposure last well past weaning – repeated ‘doses’ of this hormone over the months of breastfeeding can improve maternal health, though more research is needed in this area.

#15:

Oxytocin is also released when sharing a meal with a friend, hugging someone you care about, and even when petting your dog!

Want to learn more? See www.bellybelly.com.au, Kersten Uvnas Moberg’s new book, Oxytocin: The Biological Guide to Motherhood; Michel Odent’s book The Scientification of Love; Sarah Buckley’s e-book, Ecstatic Birth (learn more on her website at www.sarahbuckley.com)


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