Oxytocin – the love hormone
Happy Valentine’s Day! I really love this day… yes it’s another over commercialised day, and I love my husband every (most) days, but we always make an effort to do something special on Valentine’s Day. This morning he cooked a hot breakfast for me and got up with the baby. That’s a brilliant Valentine’s present when you have a little one in the home.
So what is it that we enjoy about being spoilt by our loved ones? That warm fuzzy feeling we get when they do something special for us, or tell us something nice. There’s a little hormone that comes along to help us feel that way, it’s a pretty popular hormone called oxytocin. Since it’s the day of love, I thought I’d write a little article on oxytocin and how it can help you.
Oxytocin can be found all around most days. It’s released when we do something enjoyable like reading a book or eating chocolate, we feel it when we’re having intimate connections with someone special (think skin to skin) and it also helps a lot in the reproductive cycle. There are a lot of medical professionals who explain the use of oxytocin, I especially like the explanation that Dr. Sarah Buckley gives (available in an ebook “Ecstatic Birth” at http://www.sarahbuckley.com) .
Dr Buckley explains that oxytocin assists with all the ejection reflexes during reproduction, it plays a part in the male sperm ejection reflex, the female introjection reflex with orgasm, the fetal ejection reflex (that involuntary pushing that your body does when you’re birthing a baby, check out this video), the placental ejection reflex and also while breastfeeding, the milk ejection reflex. Far out… oxytocin is busy! There’s not much that bad boy can’t do. Oxytocin is also given synthetically if you’re induced… it’s the hormone that goes through the drip to increase your contractions. It’s used post birth to assist the placenta coming away from the uterine wall, to assist your uterus to clamp down and slow bleeding post birth. Your baby enjoys bonding with you skin to skin and then enjoys a breastfeed, all made possible by oxytocin. How wonderful.
So how can we use the magical oxytocin to the best of our ability? The hypnobirthing course teaches lots of tips and tricks to use oxytocin to its best potential during birth and beyond. While mothering, I make a conscious effort to be mindful of how it can help me on stressful days. Sometimes, my baby is like a leech. He wants to touch me. All. Day. Long. I stop and think, what can I do to help my baby. Oxytocin. Skin to skin nearly always fixes any problem. I spend some uninterrupted time with my baby, shirts off and give him the touch that he needs. It might take 5 minutes, it might take 15, but 9 times out of 10 he will happily crawl off and play with something once he gets his oxytocin top up. He’s a love drug monster that kid – just as he should be. Babies NEED their mums and dads to give them touch and love in the days immediately post birth. Our bodies give us extra oxytocin in these day’s which is why you feel so loved up following birth. Sarah Buckley calls this time the “calm and connection” hormone. It’s pretty special.
So, today on Valentine’s Day, the day of love, and every other day too, give your husband/partner/mum/friend a hug and share some oxytocin. Hug your children, share the love drug. Everyone will feel better for it. Touch is so important, it makes us better humans!
Have a loved up day!