If you're wondering 'What is Oxytocin'? then let's start at the beginning! This wonderful hormone has a lot to answer for when it comes to giving birth, and ways to make labour easier!
Oxytocin, often referred to as the 'love hormone' is what helps your body to:
Get labour started
Keep labour going
Make labour less painful
Reduce blood pressure and heart rate during labour
Regulate your milk supply
If you're at the beginning of your birth preparation, and would like to learn more about Oxytocin & it's opposite - adrenaline - I have a FREE online Hypnobirthing class which you can sign up for here:
During a recent free online Hypnobirthing class I held (you can watch HERE) I talked about all of the different ways we can boost Oxytocin during birth, in order to maximise our chances of having a birth experience which is safer, faster and less painful. Here are my top tips...
It's important for us to remember that, although we as humans have drastically changed the way in which we give birth (ie we've moved out of the cave/ nest/ home and moved into a brightly lit hospital with strangers watching us etc...) our human bodies have NOT changed since we were cave people.
Now, I'm not suggesting therefore that we should be heading to our nearest cave and lighting up a fire... but it can certainly be helpful to remember this simple fact - and also be mindful of what our human bodies NEED in order for Oxytocin to be produced...
Darkness or dim lighting
Privacy/ not feeling observed
To feel safe
To feel respected
To have bodily autonomy
To be around people we know & love
As you read on, also think about what other life situations you also need these things (clue... sex!! Right...?!)
1) First of all, the main thing we can do in order to boost oxytocin and help your body to feel SAFE, RELAXED & PRIVATE is to take a look at the room in which you are giving birth. If you are planning a hospital birth this is especially important. Look at the list of needs your body has to produce Oxytocin. Think about the 'cave lady' and what her 'birth room' might have looked like.
What can you do to make your hospital room (if that's where you're giving birth) be more conducive to actually giving birth? Turn off the lights... take some fairy lights or battery operated tealights... take things from home which will help you to feel cosy, warm, familiar, relaxed.
2) Your partner can help MASSIVELY to boost your Oxytocin level during labour. Think about the ways in which you feel loved by them in every day life... some people like words of affirmation - "You're doing so well", "I love you". Some people feel love through physical touch - massage, holding hands, kisses, and even more intimate (just no penetration if your waters have gone...!).
Think about when and how you feel loved with your partner, and how they might bring this to the birth room. Perhaps massaging your back and hips, perhaps saying affirmations to you during contractions, or simply them being there quietly present, reassuring you and understanding exactly what is going on.
3) Speaking of 'intimate touch', one of the best kept secrets in traditional midwifery is that nipple stimulation can give women a HUGE boost of Oxytocin during a labour which has perhaps slowed down or stopped (due to too much adrenaline in her system). It can also be a great way to START labour...!
4) A really obvious one, for me, is Hypnobirthing! The whole point of practicing Hypnobirthing is to lower adrenaline - the fight, flight, freeze hormone... and raise Oxytocin. Eliminating underlying fears around birth through specialised hypnosis tracks, learning visualisation and relaxation techniques as well as developing a deep understanding and respect about how your body works. This all combines to dramatically decrease un-necessary intervention, decrease adrenaline and leave you able to automatically relax into your contractions.
Feeling ready to be clued up and confident ahead of your birth? The Positively Pregnant Online Hypnobirthing course won 'Best Online Antenatal course in England' last year, and comprises of 10 pre recorded expert led classes, 13 digital chapters, exclusive Hypnobirthing tracks - as well as a luxury pregnancy box posted straight to your door!
Learn more here: