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Birth Hormones - Meet your Team

Your hormones play a number of pivotal roles in pregnancy, birth and beyond.



Learn how to boost the ones you need, when you need them most, and how to keep the less helpful ones at bay with this handy guide.



Who are the key players & what roles do they play?




OXYTOCIN


aka The Love Hormone, or The Cuddle Drug


One of the main birthing and postpartum hormones!


Oxytocin stimulates contractions, helps start labour, encourages the natural expulsive reflex which helps to birth your baby and your placenta, and helps facilitate breastfeeding, bonding, and postnatal healing. It is produced in the brain.


Get me some of that please!


Boost Oxytocin by using positivity anchors, relaxation techniques, hypnobirthing!, creating the ideal birth environment, massage, sex, kissing, cuddles, awakening your 5 senses,  skin to skin with your baby, breastfeeding, doing whatever makes you feel good, brings you joy, helps you to feel safe and comfortable and looked after.


Using Upright Forward and Open positioning also helps your baby to have a more solid connection on your cervix which is anther way of producing Oxytocin in your body. Amazing. 



BETA-ENDORPHINS


aka The Feel -Good Hormone 


This is the body's natural pain relief, 200 times more powerful than morphine.


Endorphins help reduce pain and stress, and help us feel calm. They can produce euphoric feelings, leading us to  an 'altered state of consciousness' or our birth bubble/labour land - the ideal state to birth in. They also play an important role in the bonding process between parent and baby, and stimulate learning and memory. They are also released into breastmilk, helping to calm and soothe your baby. Produced in the brain when we need them most. 


Keep levels high!


They go hand in hand with Oxytocin, as excellent hormone helpers together, so boost endorphins in the same way as boosting Oxytocin. Movement, rest, making love and breastfeeding are particularly good ways to stimulate endorphin release. 



ADRENALINE


aka The Fight or Flight Hormone 


This protects us and is a primal instinct. Adrenaline is produced when we feel stress, anxiety, fear, tension or pain. It stimulates the sympathetic nervous system keeping us alert, and activates the fight-flight-or-freeze response which redirects oxygen and energy to the limbs to run away, fight or freeze to the spot. Not helpful in labour! It can cause labour to stop if levels get too high.


Doesn't sound very helpful?

For most of labour you want to keep levels low as it diminishes the production of Oxytocin and Endorphins which you want to be high. However, at transition when the body is fully open and ready for your baby to descend to be born, you need adrenaline to 'wake you up' from your labour land/birth bubble so that you can check you feel safe enough to give birth and it gives energy for the next part of your labour. 


Keep it in check by creating a birth environment that feels safe and comfortable and by looking after your wellbeing and basic needs throughout birth as adrenaline loves you to feel thirsty, hungry, tired, scared, too hot/too cold, observed, rushed and so on! 



CORTISOL


aka The Stress Hormone 


helps fuel the body's 'fight or flight' response along with Adrenaline. It also diminishes the production of our helpful hormones, Oxytocin and Endorphins.  


Cortisol is naturally elevated during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. Although predominately associated with stress and anxiety, Cortisol can help us to feel more alert so it can help in transition to ensure you feel safe enough to give birth, and it may help with attachment post-birth too. 


So, how can I reduce Cortisol levels in pregnancy, birth and beyond?


Use your hypnobirthing toolkit to keep calm and protect your birth space!  Reduce intake of foods known to create stress signals such as caffeine and sugar (and tobacco). Take time to focus on what makes you feel relaxed, calm and in control. 



PROLACTIN


aka The Stress Hormone 


This is released by the adrenal glands when we feel stress and  helps fuel the body's 'fight or flight' response along with Adrenaline. It also diminishes the production of our helpful hormones, Oxytocin and Endorphins.  


Cortisol is naturally elevated during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. Although predominately associated with stress and anxiety, Cortisol can help us to feel more alert so some is needed in transition to ensure you feel safe enough to give birth, and it may help with attachment post-birth too. 


So, how can I reduce Cortisol levels in pregnancy, birth and beyond?


Use your hypnobirthing toolkit to keep calm and protect your birth space!  Reduce intake of foods known to create stress signals such as caffeine and sugar (and tobacco). Take time to focus on what makes you feel relaxed, calm and in control. 




Keep Adrenaline, Cortisol and prolactin in check, and

Dance, glow, let that Oxytocin (and Beta-Endorphins) flow!




💫 For more in depth conversations about the cocktail of hormones in birth and to learn all you need to know about preparing your body and mind for birth whilst nurturing your pregnancy, join my Hypnobirthing Mother’s Circles or Birth Partners Workshops



🌟 Online and private sessions possibly in your own home (distance pending) also available, along with payment plans - just get in touch to find a birth prep plan that fits you!


@sunflowerbirthbabyandwellbeing



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