Birth is a marvelous dance between your body and your baby’s body that culminates in bringing your baby “earthside.” The primary driver in this beautiful, spiritual, yet ultimately biological process is your hormones! So, which hormones are at work during labor, delivery, and postpartum?
Known as “the love hormone,” oxytocin causes feelings of euphoria. It is responsible for promoting uterine contractions and facilitating the “post-birth high.” It also helps the ejection of milk and promotes the bond between mom and baby. Some people are even able to feel the rush of oxytocin during their milk letdown!
You have probably heard that endorphins are associated with exercise. Endorphins are a natural pain reliever in the body, so anytime you experience pain or stress, the body responds accordingly. To keep endorphin levels high during labor, it helps to avoid any pain relief measures as long as possible.
Known as the “mothering” hormone, prolactin peaks at the start of birth and plays a central role in breastfeeding. Prolactin helps to promote the bond between mother and baby, as well as helping the newborn adjust to life outside the womb.
Most people are already familiar with the feeling of adrenaline, as it’s associated with the “fight or flight” response. Adrenaline can play a role at many different points during birth, depending on your exact circumstances, but it’s best to try and keep adrenaline at a lower level as much as possible. It can slow contractions down, and anytime you’re feeling fearful or threatened, your adrenaline levels can spike.
You can help promote the production of oxytocin, endorphins, and prolactin throughout your birth experience by creating a relaxed environment, using calm breathing techniques, positive thinking, and staying close with your partner. Have confidence in your body’s ability to bring your baby into the world, and stay informed and prepared as much as possible. It also helps to have a doula! 😉
Hopefully, now you know a little bit about the importance of hormones during your labor, delivery, and postpartum!