Orgasms release copious amounts of oxytocin therefore I am a big advocate for female orgasms during labour when things start to slow down or stall. If it is a choice between synthetic oxytocin and real oxytocin, what would you rather have? Just put a sign on your door saying “Please keep out – orgasm in progress”
We love oxytocin! It is one of the most amazing molecules known to man. It helps facilitate birth, maternal bonding and lactation and is produced by the hypothalamus and stored and secreted by the posterior pituitary gland.
Simple body contact such as a hug or a kiss can release oxytocin – both in you and the other person and it is often referred to as the “love hormone” as it is associated with helping couples establish intimacy, bonding and trust.
Oxytocin is a powerful hormone and has a vital role in childbirth, mother / child bonding and breastfeeding. This hormone creates strong contractions (or what we call surges in our Hypnobirthing Australia classes) of the uterine muscles during labour and is also passed through to baby through breast milk, so no wonder they can look so lovingly at mum while feeding and vice versa.
During the later stages of pregnancy, the oxytocin receptors in the uterus increase, therefore making the mother more sensitive to the presence of oxytocin and even more receptors are found in the fundus, to ensure the uterus is establishing contractions that are strong and efficient.
Researchers have also found that during labour your baby also releases oxytocin that crosses the placenta to the mothers’ circulation and again plays a role in establishing effective uterine contractions. They found that oxytocin was produced by the placenta as well as the amniotic sac and amniotic fluid around the baby.
This is important to remember as all these processes triggering at the right time are the key to a normal, physiological labour and birth.
When you are induced or augmented, you are administered with a synthetic oxytocin called Syntocinon (or Pitocin in the USA). Synthetic meaning it has been made by “chemical synthesis” to imitate a “natural” product.
This means that the normal process is being inhibited and manipulated. I wonder how many women are given the insert from the Syntocinon packaging to read all the risks associated with this product? It is important for women to know what is being administered into their body, and how that can affect them, their baby and their birth.
There are many natural methods of inducing that you could experiment with before opting to be induced, but keep in mind that the body and your baby works on its own timer, so even natural methods of induction are interfering with the physiological process and may create problems or distress.
Oxytocin can also be used to heal wounds (through its anti-inflammatory properties). Studies have shown that a rise in oxytocin levels can relieve pain — everything from headaches, cramps and overall body aches (so that throws that old saying “sorry I have a headache” right out the window, when having a good dose of sex will help to relieve that headache!!).
After birth stimulation through touch from your baby such as suckling the breast, movement on your body and eye contact continues to elevate the levels of oxytocin in the mother to help release the placenta, prevent post-partum haemorrhage and activate bonding between mother and baby. That is why it is so important to have that immediate skin to skin contact over the first few hours from birth.
If you have been induced with Syntocinon, you are more likely to need a Managed Third Stage, which means your midwife will administer an injection of Syntocinon into the thigh muscle to ensure the placenta is released. Dr Rachel Reed has a great article on “managed third stage” so go to the link to read more.
Let’s go back to basics birthing and start educating women on how they can work with their body, their baby and their mind to have a normal, physiological birth experience. We recognise that sometimes medical interventions are necessary, but let’s wait and see if it is needed, rather than making interventions a routine practice.
Let’s demand that women be given more time during labour, and support them through an undisturbed birth without placing time restrictions and a “one size fits all” progression for all women. And women, the best thing you can do if you need some privacy and undisturbed time on your own or with your partner is to put that sign on the door “Please keep out – orgasm in progress” ……
My name is Vicki Hobbs and I am a Childbirth Educator (Back to Basics Birthing), Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner, Certified VBAC Educator, Remedial Massage Therapist specialising in Pregnancy Massage, Birth & Postpartum Doula, Certified Placenta Encapsulator, Hypnotherapist, Aromatherapist, Reiki Practitioner and Life Coach.
I am based in the northern suburbs of Perth and can be contacted by email by [email protected] or phone (08) 9303 9111.