Following on from valentines day, let’s talk about Oxytocin and the power this hormone has in your labour and birth.
Oxytocin is often referred to as the love hormone as one of it’s roles is to help us feel good. The number of oxytocin receptors increases substantially late in pregnancy. (www.aims.org.uk/journal/item/undisturbed-birth). It helps you to relax and therefore bring on contractions that move baby down which in turn stimulates dilation of the cervix and moving baby down to birth. Oxytocin is the hormone that creates the final contractions that release baby quickly and easily. So all in all it holds an important role in birthing your baby!
We tend to be brought up to believe that birth is painful and scary so how are you supposed to produce oxytocin on labour?!
Low levels of oxytocin in labour and birth can cause problems such as:
– Contractions stopping or slowing and therefore lengthening labour.
– Result in excessive bleeding at the placenta site after birth.
– The above leading to care providers responding with interventions
There are many ways you can help produce oxytocin. One way is to learn breathing techniques that ensure enough oxygen is working its way into the muscles and fibres that are working to bring baby into the world this also helps to reduce the body’s fight or flight response and therefore minimise adrenaline that can inhibit progression of labour.
Your birth partner can also help raise your oxytocin levels with labour massage techniques and sometimes verbal affirmations if that works for you!
If you check out your local maternity ward/midwife led Centre or even for a home birth you can create your own playlist on and bring in home comforts such as cushions, battery powered candles to help create a relaxed environment to stimulate the production of oxytocin. You can also include these in your birth preferences if you are planning for a caesarean section and talking to your care provider about what can be accommodated as this may change depending on your location. But more widely a ‘gentle caesarean section’ is being accommodated due to its links in helping parent and baby form a positive connection following birth.
By increasing our Oxytocin levels in labour we can help our body to increase it’s pain thresholds, reduce anxiety and adrenaline and arouse positive feelings in our body to aid a confident birth.
We all want to do our best to bring our baby into the world in a positive and safe manner, and what better way to do that than focussing on love to bring them into our arms!
For further reading I would suggest checking out the www.aims.org.uk site and also the blogs on our website!