Friday, June 12, 2009

Oxytocin: The Love Hormone

(Unfortunately, the code on this news clip is faulty, so I can't post the video here -- but click on the title to see the video.)

My current childbirth fascination is with the hormones that start labor. Released by the brain, oxytocin is the hormone that causes the uterus to contract. Pitocin, the synthetic oxytocin used to induce contractions, is introduced directly into the veins by IV. So while Pitocin mimics oxytocin, it bypasses the brain, and the chain reaction release of endorphins that follows the release of oxytocin - the body's own painkiller - doesn't happen.

Incidentally, oxytocin is also released by the brain after you've had a good meal. So a delicious dinner and great sex makes for one fantastic evening! It's another good reason to eat in labor.

Another excellent discussion of the hormones involved in creating and sustaining a spontaneous labor is in the book Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, but Sarah Buckley.


1 comment:

Shaileen said...

Here Here, Maria! I go over this in detail with my HypnoBirthing students. It is so fascinating, and so important to understand the wonderful substance that is our own natural "love hormone". It's the horomone of attachment, attraction, bonding, and so much more. Released by orgasm, good food, lactation, and so many other "good for you" activities. We can't make babies without it, and we can't birth 'em without it either!

I love the saying "what gets the baby in gets the baby out." True on so many levels!