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The Unknown - The Love hormone

Oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone”, is produced when you feel safe, loved, happy, warm. You produced it when you are falling in love, when you are intimate with your partner, and when you are breastfeeding.

Oxytocin is the most important of several hormones involved in the birth process. Without oxytocin, labour won’t start and won’t progress.

Pharmaceutical companies have produced a synthetic version of oxytocin called syntocinon. The latter is used during induction of labour and augmentation.


However, since oxytocin is also known as the “shy hormone” it is only produced if the circumstances are right.

  • Oxytocin thrives in: darkness or dim lighting, quiet, warmth, privacy, safety, feeling loved, trusted birth supporters.
  • Oxytocin dislikes: noise, bright lights, strangers, cold, fear, unfamiliar environments.

It is for this reason when women move from their home to the hospital during early labour – things tend to slow down or even stop altogether. The change in environment, the unfamiliarity of the midwives/doctors/surroundings, the noise level, it all stops oxytocin in its tracks. As things slow down, women are sent back home to await progress.

It is easier for your body to produce oxytocin when you are at home. This is why I recommend staying at home as long as possible so that labour is indeed established. 

As you release oxytocin your body is also releasing endorphins which act like a natural pain relief. This is one thing that synthetic oxytocin cannot replicate. Hence why induced or augmented labours feel more intense and women tend to reach out for stronger pain relief, such as epidurals.

Another hormone involved in the birth process is adrenaline, which blocks oxytocin from being produced. Adrenaline is released when you are scared, intimidated, anxious and is your body’s natural mechanism so that you have energy to either “fight or take flight”. You want to keep adrenaline at bay. At least for most of the duration of labour until the last part right before your baby is born your body will have an adrenaline boost which is needed to push your baby out. 

5 top tips for keeping oxytocin levels high whether you are at hospital or having a home birth:

    1. Keep the room dark, safe and cosy; close curtains, turn off lights, use candle lighting (real or if in hospital take the electric candles), make a nest using cushions and blankets.
    2. Ask your partner for a massage using calming essential oils (frankincense, lavender, or my favourite Calming Massage Oil "Relax and Breathe").
    3. Stick positive affirmations around your room.
    4. Put up pictures of people or places you love, or happy times in your life.
    5. Ask everyone in the room to either keep quiet or use hushed voices.

 

I do a Birth Preparation Antenatal Course for couples. If you are keen on learning more about how to keep your oxytocin levels high and how your partner can further help you please contact me. For more details click here: Birth Preparation Course