There are many hormones that govern the process of labor and birth. In this article we are going to focus on four of the main hormones:
Relaxin, Oxytocin, Prostaglandins, and Endorphins.
We want to encourage mom’s body to produce these hormones in order to help labor begin naturally, making birth as easy and safe as possible.
- During pregnancy, relaxin is released from the placenta, the membranes which surround the baby, and the lining of the uterus.
- Softens the ligaments and cartilages of the pelvis so that it can expand and “open up” during labor, facilitating the descent of the baby into the birth path.
- Helps the cervix become looser and softer so that it can thin and open.
- Smooths and softens vaginal tissues and perineum, making them more flexible and “stretchy.”
- Makes the baby’s whole body more flexible and “squishy”, and allows the head to mold.
- Relaxin levels increase during the last few weeks of pregnancy, making your pelvis more flexible, and the baby’s head and body squishier and easier to birth.
- Practicing prenatal yoga and gentle stretches can help maximize the effects of relaxin in helping the pelvic area open and expand for birth.
- Try squatting. Make sure your care provider approves this exercise.
- In men, relaxin is secreted from the prostate gland and can be detected in the semen. Intercourse during pregnancy can be helpful in softening the cervix, due to relaxin and prostaglandins in the semen.
- Stimulates uterine contractions during orgasm and childbirth.
- Large amounts of oxytocin are released when the cervix is fully opened, triggering the fetal ejection reflex.
- The Love Hormone: initiates feelings of bonding and closeness in both mom and baby.
- Works in synergy with your body’s endorphins, creating a state of euphoria.
- Suppresses the production of stress hormones, which are responsible for the Fear-Tension-Pain cycle.
- Contracts the uterus strongly after birth in order to deliver the placenta and stop bleeding.
- During breastfeeding, produces the “Let-Down” reflex.
- When the baby’s brain is finished developing, it signals the mother’s body to release oxytocin.
- Lovemaking: skin-to-skin contact, kissing, intercourse, and particularly, orgasm.
- Light Touch Massage, and any other form of massage, or pleasurable physical contact.
- Nipple Stimulation! This can be done during lovemaking or light touch massage.
- Prenatal bonding exercises, visualizations and guided meditation.
- Fear release: Stress hormones can slow the production of oxytocin.
- Dark Chocolate is known to produce an increase in oxytocin.
- Keep the lights in your birthing room dim! Melatonin is produced in dim lighting, and melatonin helps make your body more sensitive and responsive to oxytocin.
- Ripens the cervix and causes it to begin the process of thinning and opening.
- Stimulates uterine contractions.
- Semen is a rich source of prostaglandins. Allow the semen to stay in the vagina after intercourse for as long as possible.
- Fresh pineapple and spicy food may help stimulate prostaglandin release by irritating the digestive tract slightly, triggering prostaglandin release.
- Walking helps to create pressure on the cervix, which may further increase prostaglandin production and help thin the cervix.
- Your body’s own natural morphine: much stronger and more effective than any other pain killer.
- In large amounts, it creates an amnesiac state where you become unaware of the outside world or the passage of time.
- Sex. (Are you noticing a pattern here?) Orgasm produces a huge rush of endorphins.
- Light touch massage: Getting “the chills” means that the endorphins are at work.
- Laughter and humor.
- Exercise: all muscle contractions and stretching of the muscles or tissues of the body create endorphins.
- Hypnosis, guided meditation, warm baths.
- Acupuncture and acupressure release endorphins and may relax you enough so that labor can kick in on its own.