What do oxytocin and Valentine's Day have in common? Well they are both associated with love. Dr. Michel Odent, world renowned obstetrician has called oxytocin the love hormone. Oxytocin is a hormone that is released during the making of babies as well as the birthing and breastfeeding of babies. It is released from the brain and causes uterine contractions which is absolutely necessary for babies to exit the womb. Oxytocin also causes the milk let down reflex during breastfeeding.
What do candlelit dinners and birth have in common? Candlelit dinners obviously have low light. What does this mean? Melatonin is produced and secreted in the absence of light. Melatonin enhances the production of oxytocin. Therefore it only makes sense to keep the lights low in the birthing room (and when having a romantic dinner with someone special).
Hugs. They are a simple way to boost your oxytocin. You can get them from your doula, nurse, mother or friend but most likely the biggest boost you will get is a hug from your loving partner. This is one of the reasons I recommend the slow labor dance.
Trust. When you feel safe, more oxytocin is going to be released and less adrenaline will be produced. Adrenaline blocks oxytocin. The more you trust your birth environment and those who are in it, the more you will have oxytocin on your side.
Touch. Massage in labor is beneficial for helping you to relax and therefore getting a major surge of oxytocin. Some women even love just having fingers run through their fingers during labor.
Soft music. Valentine's Day or labor day – it doesn't really matter. Soothing music helps to banish the stress hormones (adrenaline) that block oxytocin production.
Chocolate. Yes, there have been some reports that chocolate, especially dark (70% or more) promotes oxytocin as well as other feel good hormones – dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. Endorphins are the body's natural pain relievers. But you only need a little chocolate so don't give in to all your cravings!
So go ahead, cuddle up in the candlelight with some soft music and enjoy a bit of chocolate. Even if it doesn't get labor started, it will be a pleasurable, relaxing time. And who doesn't need some relaxing pleasure. I think I will go get me some chocolate now!