Oxytocin hormone - the love hormone with power to give birth
As your child is about to be born, your body will mobilize the very same hormone that helped create your child-the hormone of love, called oxytocin. It is in evolutionary terms a very old hormone, dating back to the very first rodent-like mammals some 70-80 million years ago. Nature took a long time to refine the action of this very important hormone and how it supports deliveries in all mammals, including us humans. It is also a very important hormone for human bonding and cognition.
It is secreted by the brain, the pituitary gland. As the birth commences it will latch on to smooth muscles, such as those in the uterus. This will make the uterus contract. This is the basis of what we call contractions, which through a rhythmic pattern will support the opening of the cervix and the pushing out of the baby. If a delivery is prolonged or arrested, extra oxytocin can be administered to you.
After the delivery of the baby, the secretion of oxytocin will not stop.
As the birth of the child is over, it is the very same hormone that supports the delivery of your placenta, and finally helps your uterus contract again, which is essential to stop post-partum bleeding and infections.
Oxytocin then starts working on another wondrous system, the breast tissues, supporting your lactic ducts to squirt first the colostrum then the real milk into your child’s mouth. The suckling pressure of the baby’s mouth will support the release of yet more oxytocin. Thus the oxytocin works with the mother and child in an intricate feedback loop.
The oxytocin will affect maternity and bonding behaviour. You become another version of yourself, and it will help the connection with the baby. Read more about how oxytocin changes your behaviour here.