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Oxytocin: The Love Hormone and Its Effect on Breastfeeding

Oxytocin: The Love Hormone and It's Effect on Breastfeeding  #oxytocin #breastfeeding Oxytocin: the love hormone.

Oxytocin is often called the love hormone, but do you know how it bonds us to our babies during breastfeeding? This powerful physical response to feeding your baby ensures the best for you both!

What is oxytocin? What does oxytocin have to do with breastfeeding?

Oxytocin is a hormone vital in mammal reproduction. Produced by the hypothalamus and secreted by the pituitary gland it floods your brain with the neurotransmitter during intimate moments with your partner or your baby. Oxytocin usually makes you feel blissful, calm, safe, and nurturing. The more you bond with those you love the more you produce, returning you to these meaningful relationships.

What does oxytocin, the love hormone, do?

During romance:

Oxytocin is released in both men and woman during passionate moments. Studies are beginning to show the role of the hormone in maintaining magnanimous relationships. It plays a role in helping us feel safe with those we love.

During birth:

Oxytocin causes uterine contractions, both during and after labor. During labor it helps to contract the cervix for birth, and after it prevents uterine hemorrhage. It also helps you fall in love with your baby as you set eyes on him for the first time!

Medications that mimic oxytocin are commonly used to induce labor (but synthetic versions affect your body differently, so oxytocin from natural labor and delivery does a much more effective job).

Oxytocin also affects how fathers bond to their babies as they care for them. Physical closeness and skin to skin touch can release oxytocin in the baby and any caregiver.

During breastfeeding:

How does oxytocin affect breastfeeding?

As your baby stimulates your nipples, oxytocin is released which signals to your breasts to let down. As your milk flows, you may feel calm, drowsy, and euphoric from the oxytocin rush.

When nursing soon after delivery the oxytocin also causes your uterus to contract to pre-pregnancy size.

Your baby also produces oxytocin which is released during nursing and snuggle time with you. This makes your baby sleepy, explains why he calms when you’re around, and strengthens your bond.

Did you know how oxytocin, the love hormone, works? Did you experience direct effects of this hormone release?

Devany LeDrew is a former kindergarten teacher turned write-at-home-mom. She's the mother of three, grieving the loss of one. She is passionate about gentle parenting, literacy education, grief outreach, and breastfeeding, of course! She writes at Still Playing School, as well as at a blog specifically about grief The Beauty of the Bereaved. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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