What if there was a superpower that created and released painkillers to your body? What if this superpower could increase all your positive emotions and also help you relax? Imagine if your body could produce a chemical that would induce your labor and help you bond with your newborn baby. Would you want this superpower?
The good news: this superpower really exists! And the better news is, it’s already within you!
We’re talking about the amazing and powerful hormone called Oxytocin. It has been appropriately nicknamed, “the Love Hormone” because oxytocin plays a role in enhancing relationships and positive feelings of fidelity. Everyone is capable of producing this hormone, but pregnant women make more of it than the rest of us. Throughout every stage of pregnancy and after, oxytocin plays a crucial role.
What is Oxytocin?
Some people think oxytocin’s only role is the emotional highs and lows of pregnancy. For example, think of those scenes in movies where they play up the pregnant woman’s roller coaster of emotions. Others limit oxytocin solely to labor, inducing contractions to the womb and abdominal muscles. While both points are true, oxytocin is more than that!
Oxytocin is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter. Hormones help us coordinate with the rest of our body from our emotions, sleep, sexual functions, and much more.
Neurotransmitters, on the other hand, engage with our brains. That’s why oxytocin helps us form strong bonds with others, helps us relax, and decreases stress.
Because we naturally produce oxytocin, we can also naturally increase its levels and boost production.
The Role of Oxytocin in Pregnancy, Birth, and Baby Bonding
When you choose a natural birth at Casa Natal, you won’t be relying on synthetic hormones, drugs, and pain killers. It’s all about harnessing all that power in your body to create a positive birth experience. Here’s what the optimal levels of oxytocin can do for you:
- Softens the cervix – the cervix must open to about a 10cm dilation for the baby to pass through. Oxytocin is one of the hormones responsible for this stimulation because it releases another group of hormones called prostaglandins which help to relax & ripen the cervix.
- Provides natural pain-killers – as labor contractions increase, pain-relief hormones known as beta-endorphins are released. Oxytocin is responsible for stimulating this production.
- Reduces bleeding – Once your beautiful baby is born, the oxytocin continues to work to restrict the blood flow to the womb. It helps detach the placenta quickly and reduces the risk of hemorrhaging.
- Promotes Bonding – Have you witnessed that post-labor euphoria? That uncontrollable joy and calmness? That’s oxytocin helping you experience the miracle of life. When your oxytocin and prolactin (another hormone) levels are very high after labor, they improve the quality of mother and baby bonding.
A study recorded by LiveScience measured oxytocin levels of 62 pregnant women throughout their pregnancy and after labor. The study found that “Mothers with a high level of the hormone in the first trimester engaged in more of the bonding behaviors after birth, the scientists found. Also, moms with lots of the hormone during the entire pregnancy and in the first postpartum month were more likely to sing special songs to infants and otherwise treat them special. They also worried more, checking on the infants more often than other mothers.”
How To Naturally Increase Oxytocin
Oxytocin is produced in our body by a positive feedback mechanism. This means that the oxytocin hormone is released to benefit our body when certain triggers occur. These triggers can be simple social activities like hugging, seeing your grandparents, or getting a massage. Here are a few more things you can do to naturally increase oxytocin levels.
- Start nesting
When you are about to give birth, you need to feel safe, warm, and secure. When you choose a birth center like Casa Natal, you get all the amenities that make you feel cozy and at home. You have the freedom to make it even more comfortable with your favorite blankets, pictures, and mementos.
- Block all the noise
The beauty of a birth center or home birth is you can control your surroundings, including all the people who can crisscross the room. Before and during your labor, create a peaceful environment. Choose music that makes you happy and calm, block out all the noise with headphones.
- Get Hugs and Kisses
Like the social activities, mentioned above, getting hugs, kisses, having sex, spending time with loved ones, getting a massage, and cuddling, can all get your oxytocin flowing. Even in the early stages of labor, ask your partner to provide skin-to-skin contact, kiss, lock eyes, and give you all the assurance you need.
- Start Early
Don’t wait until it’s the start of your labor to boost oxytocin in your body. Create an environment in your home that prioritizes self-care and self-love.
One of the benefits of receiving prenatal care with a midwife is the holistic approach to your overall health. That means that early on in your pregnancy, you receive midwife-led, evidence-based, family-centered healthcare.
Do you want to learn more about your hormones and natural ways to improve your birth experience? Connect with Casa Natal today!