Oxytocin, your childbirth ally
Oxytocin, but what is it?
Oxytocin is often referred to as the "love hormone" or "attachment hormone" because of its role in forming social and emotional bonds . It is released during moments of intimacy and affection such as breastfeeding, cuddling, and sex, which can strengthen the bonds between individuals.
Oxytocin has also been linked to reduced stress and anxiety , and may even improve cognitive functions such as memory and learning.
What is its role during childbirth?
When the pregnancy comes to term, oxytocin is produced by the hypothalamus to stimulate uterine contractions which lead to the expulsion of the fetus.
When oxytocin is released into the blood, it binds to receptors on the uterine muscles, causing the muscle fibers to contract. This uterine contraction helps dilate the cervix to allow the fetus to come out.
Oxytocin can also stimulate the production of prostaglandins, substances that help soften and dilate the cervix. In combination with uterine contractions, this can help induce labor and speed up delivery.
In the event of a difficult delivery or other complications, oxytocin can be given intravenously to help stimulate labor and prevent complications such as uterine failure or uterine rupture.
How to promote the production of oxytocin?
Create a calm and calming environment: a stressful environment can reduce the production of oxytocin and increase adrenaline production, which can reduce uterine contractions. It is therefore important to create a calm and soothing environment during childbirth.
Practice relaxation and deep breathing: Relaxation and deep breathing can help reduce stress and increase oxytocin production.
Encourage hugs and physical contact with the co-parent: this can also stimulate the production of oxytocin and help reduce stress during childbirth.