Birth Experience

The Production of Oxytocin and Its Important Role During Labor, Childbirth & Bonding

6 Comments 05 March 2011

What is Oxytocin?

Oxytocin, often referred to as the “Love Hormone,” is a hormone that is produced in the brain and release into the bloodstream during labor causing the uterus to contract.

In addition to the role it plays during contractions, oxytocin is also released during the physical stimulation of a woman’s nipples.

The release of oxytocin creates feelings of contentment, reduces anxiety and increases feelings of security and calm.

Naturally, due to these factors, there is much evidence that the Love Hormone is important to mother-baby bonding as it enables an increase trust and decrease in fear.

Synthetic Oxytocin

As you just learned, oxytocin is a hormone that your own body creates – a natural substance created and flowing within your own body.

There are also synthetic forms of oxytocin. They are Pitocin and Syntocinon.

Pitocin is used to induce (start contractions before labor begins naturally) or augment (strengthen weak contractions during labor) labor.

“Potential Adverse Reactions of Synthetic Oxytocin

Oxytocin is relatively safe when used at recommended doses, and side effects are uncommon. The following maternal events have been reported:

* Subarachnoid hemorrhage
* Increased heart rate
* Decreased blood pressure
* Cardiac arrhythmia and premature ventricular contraction
* Impaired uterine blood flow
* Pelvic hematoma
* Afibrinogenonemia, which can lead to hemorrhage and death
* Anaphylaxis
* Nausea and vomiting

Excessive dosage or long term administration (over a period of 24 hours or longer) have been known to result in tetanic uterine contractions, uterine rupture, postpartum hemorrhage, and water intoxication, sometimes fatal.

Increased uterine motility has led to the following complications in the fetus/neonate:

* Decreased heart rate or heart rate decelerations
* Cardiac arrhythmia
* Brain damage
* Seizures
* Death

In addition, use of pitocin in the mother has been associated with neonatal jaundice, retinal hemorrhage, and low five-minute Apgar score.”

- Wikipedia.org

Naturally Stimulate the Release of Oxytocin

One of the strongest ways to release oxytocin is through touch.

Other ways include laughter, exercise, feeling grateful and/or loving, rhythmic movements, speaking mantras, prayer, Acupuncture, meditation, massage, relaxation, positive environments, feeling full after a meal and dancing.

After reading this list, it’s easy to understand why there is a surge of oxytocin into the blood stream immediately after birth and during the let-down of breastmilk.

Your Comments

6 Comments so far

  1. Abigail says:

    My husband and I learned all about Oxytocin during a class we took towards the end of my pregnancy. After hearing about the surge of Oxytocin that happens between mother and baby upon first meeting and being skin to skin, my husband was a little jealous. lol

    We also learned that oxytocin will help move labor along and will ease discomfort, etc. So after my water broke and some light contractions began, we hung out in bed looking through our wedding album and reading old letters and cards. Not only did this provide us with our own oxytocin going into labor, but it was a beautiful perspective to have about our relationship- how it began and how it grew up to this point and how we were about to become a little family. I recommend doing something special like that beforehand. ; )

  2. Heather says:

    Just another fascinating fact about how amazing our bodies are!

    Thanks !


Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Home Birth Delivers Exceptional Newborn Care | Bring Birth Home - November 13, 2011

    [...] mother releases large quantities of oxytocin when immediately placed skin-to-skin with baby, increasing bonding and contracting the uterine [...]

  2. Birth? How is my body going to do that? | Mindful Mamma Hypnobirthing and Mindful Birth - October 27, 2012

    [...] Read more about oxytocin here http://bringbirthhome.com/birth-experience/role-of-oxytocin-during-childbirth/ [...]

  3. Simple Self-Care: Easy Ways to Combat Stress During Pregnancy | Modern Alternative Pregnancy - March 15, 2013

    [...] It turns out that sex along with an emotional/loving connection provides a much stronger and longer response of oxytocin than does sex alone. More touching and kissing during lovemaking also makes the effect stronger.  **This is why kissing/touching during the early stages of labor is encouraged so much.  [...]

  4. Simple Self-Care: Easy Ways to Combat Stress During Pregnancy | Pregnancy Checklist - March 15, 2013

    [...] It turns out that sex along with an emotional/loving connection provides a much stronger and longer response of oxytocin than does sex alone. More touching and kissing during lovemaking also makes the effect stronger.  **This is why kissing/touching during the early stages of labor is encouraged so much.  [...]

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