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The Power of Oxytocin: Nurturing Fertility, Pregnancy and Beyond

What is Oxytocin?

Oxytocin, often referred to as the "love hormone" or "bonding hormone," is a neuropeptide produced in the hypothalamus and released by the pituitary gland. It plays a crucial role in various physiological processes, including social bonding, maternal behaviour, sexual reproduction, and childbirth. Oxytocin is known for its ability to promote feelings of love, trust, and connection, making it a vital component of human relationships and reproductive health.


Oxytocin in fertility and pregnancy

Why is Oxytocin Important for Fertility and Reproductive Health? 

In the realm of fertility and reproductive health, oxytocin holds significant importance. During the menstrual cycle, oxytocin helps regulate uterine contractions and may play a role in follicle development and ovulation. Additionally, oxytocin facilitates sperm transport within the female reproductive tract, aiding in the process of fertilisation.


How do you Increase Oxytocin while Trying to Conceive? 

While trying to conceive, enhancing natural oxytocin levels can be beneficial for fertility and pregnancy. One approach involves fostering intimacy and emotional connection with your partner, as oxytocin is released during moments of bonding and affection. This aligns with the wisdom of midwife Ina May Gaskin, who famously stated, "What got baby in, will get baby out." By prioritising intimacy and closeness, couples can boost oxytocin levels, potentially enhancing fertility.


How does it Affect Labour and Birth? 

During labour and birth, oxytocin plays a central role in orchestrating uterine contractions, facilitating cervical dilation, and promoting the progress of labour. Natural oxytocin release during childbirth not only stimulates contractions but also promotes feelings of calmness, connection, and pain relief for the birthing woman. This physiological response supports the birthing process and fosters a positive birth experience.


Why is Synthetic Oxytocin (Syntocinon) Different? 

Synthetic oxytocin, known as Syntocinon or Pitocin, is commonly used for induction or augmentation of labour in clinical settings. However, synthetic oxytocin differs from naturally produced oxytocin in several ways. Dr. Sarah Buckley highlights that Syntocinon-induced contractions are often stronger, longer, and closer together, placing additional pressure and stress on the baby with less time for recovery between contractions. These intensified contractions can also lead to increased pain for the birthing person and higher rates of intervention, such as epidurals or assisted instrumental births.


Furthermore, Syntocinon cannot cross the blood-brain barrier as naturally produced oxytocin does. This means that it lacks the ability to produce the positive effects of pain relief, calmness, and emotional connection during and after birth. The absence of these neurohormonal effects may impact the overall birth experience and hinder the physiological processes associated with bonding and breastfeeding initiation.


The Ongoing Action of Oxytocin after Birth 

Beyond childbirth, oxytocin continues to play a crucial role in the postpartum period. The surge of oxytocin during breastfeeding promotes maternal-infant bonding, enhances milk ejection reflex, and fosters a sense of connection and attachment between mother and baby. This "love hormone" creates a nurturing environment known as the "love bubble," where the bond between parents and their newborn flourishes, laying the foundation for a secure attachment and emotional well-being.


In Conclusion, 

Oxytocin is a remarkable hormone that influences various aspects of fertility, childbirth, and postpartum bonding. By understanding its significance and honouring its natural release during the reproductive journey, individuals can optimise their reproductive health and cultivate positive birth experiences. Embracing the innate wisdom of oxytocin and prioritising its natural production can nurture the profound connection between parents and their children, fostering a journey of love, trust, and joy.


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