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3 Ways to Boost Oxytocin Production in Labor
There is so much working together during birth. One of the key components that guide labor is a hormone called oxytocin.
What is Oxytocin?
Oxytocin is a hormone that plays roles in attachment, intimacy, and social interactions. However, its primary functions are to produce uterine contractions during labor, stimulate milk let-down during breastfeeding, and promote maternal nurturing behavior. Oxytocin is hugely important to the progression of labor. In fact, the term oxytocin comes from the Greek word meaning “swift birth.”¹ Knowing the impact oxytocin has on birth and beyond, it is important to do all you can to foster its production.
3 Ways to Boost Oxytocin Production:
Turn off the lights
There’s a reason so many labors begin in the middle of the night. A recent study found that melatonin works with oxytocin to produce regular and productive uterine contractions. You may have to suffer through a few bright lights during your hospital birth, but once you are settled in your room turn those lights off.
Adrenaline is another important hormone during birth. Adrenaline plays a key role in the second stage of pushing, but too much adrenaline during the first stage can inhibit oxytocin prodcution. Adrenaline, the “fight or flight” hormone, is secreted in response to stress or fear. A woman in labor needs to feel safe. Limit visitors. Feel like your labor environment lacks privacy? Go in the bathroom! Labor on the toilet, a great position for labor. Try the shower; water can be a very effective pain management technique.
Massage is a great way to find pain relief. Research also tells us that massage boosts oxytocin production. This is one reason why having a doula can be beneficial. Your doula can provide helpful massage and touch, as well as show your other birth team members different techniques.
The oxytocin your body releases during labor reaches a peak when your baby enters the world and is placed on your chest. This surge of hormones helps to establish the bond between mother and baby. The abundance of oxytocin produced during birth will also help you initiate breastfeeding. Do not make the mistake of assuming you are a passive passenger on the journey to birthing your baby. Ensure that you have a birth team in place to protect your birth space, and do all that you can to get that oxytocin flowing.