Do you know about the miracle hormone that can bring you happiness? You should.
I am kind of obsessed with oxytocin. And I'd like for you to be, too. Because, if you're pregnant, you're about to get a bunch of it coursing through your body, and I'm kind of jealous. I'm not envious of the contractions oxycotin will cause, but I crave the aftermath- the body flooded with a feeling of love and bonding. I could use some of that.
So what is oxytocin? It's a hormone that causes labor contractions and breastmilk production. It's also experienced in high amounts during orgasm, love, happiness, massage, when the lights are low and you feel safe. Who said women's hormones aren't fun? Actually, men get oxytocin too- the more time they spend with their newborns, the more it flows.
Today NPR ran a piece about the joys of this particular hormone and how it makes us behave. In a nutshell, when we're happy/in love we make more oxytocin, which in turn makes us happier/more in love.
My usual rant on oxytocin has a lot to do with how great it is, but it's mostly about how to create an environment for labor where oxytocin is free to flow. You see, this hormone is not a fan of fear. When fear hormones kick in, oxytocin slows down. There are things about labor that are intimidating, even frightening. Oxytocin can handle that normal amount of stress and worry, but excessive fear can make labor more difficult.
Having someone who helps you and provides a sense of safety helps helps oxytocin production. Massages and dim lights help, too. Being with someone you love it great. A lot of women go into labor at night, and this is probably because oxytocin is more likely to flow in the dark and in the safety of your own bed. Birth may not be orgasmic (for most), but it's not unrelated to sex and love. All of these activities benefit from trust and intimacy.
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