When a birthing woman feels safe and supported, when she feels uninhibited and free to respond to her body, when she is undisturbed and unmedicated, then the innate wisdom of her mammalian body takes over and orchestrates a powerful, yet delicate cocktail of birthing hormones.
A birthing woman’s hormones gradually build up during the birth process and peak as her placenta is delivered and the woman holds her baby in her arms and initiates breastfeeding.
So, let’s talk about these miraculous hormones...
First there is Estrogen and Progesterone….Basically these hormones initiate labour. They coordinate the uterine contractions and activate natural painkilling pathways in the brain and spinal cord.
Then there are the Beta-Endorphins-...These hormones primarily serve as natural opiates- natural painkillers.
Then there are Catecholamines or Epinephrine and Norepinephrine...These hormones kick in toward the end of the birthing process stimulating the FETAL EJECTION REFLUX and giving the birthing woman extra strength and energy to push.
Then there is Prolactin- often referred to as the mothering hormone. Prolactin prepares a woman’s breasts for lactation (breastfeeding). Prolactin rises sharply in the moments after a woman gives birth getting her ready to nourish her baby.
And, I saved the best to last …Oxytocin- In addition to being the most powerful contraction causing hormone, oxytocin is often referred to as the love hormone. We see oxytocin levels rise during meaningful human connection, love making, birth and breastfeeding. After birth, skin-to-skin contact and the initiation of breastfeeding produce high levels of oxytocin in the mother and her baby to facilitate initial bonding.
Now, this is a very simplified explanation of the birth hormones. I strongly encourage you to look into the work of obstetricians Michel Odent and Sarah J. Buckley on undisturbed physiological birth and the hormones of birth.
Here's the bottom line...Mother Nature is smart. She wants you and your baby to be safe. So, labour and birth happen best when you feel you’re in a calm and private place—a place where you feel safe, protected and relaxed. Often the care a woman gets around the time of labour and birth may be stressful. For example, bright lights, noise, medical equipment, frequent vaginal exams, and people coming in and out of the room can be pretty stressful. Your body may “view” these things as threats. If your body feels that you’re not in a safe place, your birth hormones may not work very well and labour may slow or even stop. So, no matter where you give birth, it is important to mitigate any potential stress. Choose where you give birth and whom will be in attendance wisely. Your body knows how to give birth; it just needs to be allowed to do so in peace.
From my heart to yours🙏