Since the early 1900’s we have known about oxytocin being key to labour, in fact the word ‘oxytocin’ is Latin for ‘quick birth’. It is the hormone that stimulates the uterus to powerfully contract, to open the cervix and push our babies down and out.
We now know that oxytocin is not just for birth, it is for life. This amazing molecule continues to play a big part in our parenthood journey, and it is essential to keep it flowing.
Oxytocin is commonly known as the ‘love hormone’ because it is associated with empathy, connection, trust, relationship building, sexual activity, birth, and breastfeeding. It is a neurotransmitter that jumps into action in response to sensory stimulation.
When we do things that make us feel good we have a physiological response in the body where our brain releases this wonderful chemical. When it does then we find that, due to its ability to counteract the stress hormone cortisol, stress lowers and anxiety eases.
There is a huge amount of change happening as the maternal brain changes to prepare and protect us for motherhood, oxytocin supports this process. This hormone of love relieves pain, induces a feeling of calm, regulates our mood, and helps us handle, in all honesty, the monotonous repetition that parenthood can often feel like! It makes us more present and focused.
When our oxytocin levels are high our quality of sleep improves, our ability to bond increases which does wonderful things for our connection with our babies as well as our partners. We feel driven to socially engage which is key in helping us to feel more able and confident to ask for help, gather our village and increase our support system.
Where prolactin is the hormone that produces our milk, oxytocin is what we need to release the milk. Therefore, oxytocin is essential to a mother’s breastfeeding journey.
So how do we increase our oxytocin levels?
We simply do the things that make us feel good!
Consider, what makes you feel good? What things can you do every day / week / month to ensure you have time to feel more grounded and connected with yourself? When will you schedule these in and who will support it to ensure that they happen?
Because when a mother feels loved, supported, nourished and is regularly able to do and experience the things that make her truly feel good, she will become connected, calm, confident, engaged, and her milk will flow, so she is more likely to be able to breastfeed successfully.
When dad regularly fills his oxytocin cup too then he can bond more easily, engage, and get more involved. He can feel more compassion, empathy, and confidence as to how he can best support mum, nourish his baby, and enjoy his family.
The whole family benefits!
I love guiding parents during the amazing transformative and life changing time that is becoming parents. Please do get in touch to arrange a free chat and we can explore how I can help you to feel good postpartum.