The influence of oxytocin during and after childbirth

The influence of oxytocin during and after childbirth

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Oxytocin is one of many hormones that facilitate childbirth and breastfeeding. It also fulfills interesting functions during pregnancy itself ... And even before fertilization!

What is oxytocin exactly?

  • Oxytocin is a hormone naturally synthesized by the pituitary gland, a gland located in the brain. It can be remembered that his name derives from the Greek "õkytokíne" which can be translated as "fast delivery", which gives a precise indication of one of his main roles. This being said, this hormone acts on several areas of the body and fulfills many different functions before, during and after pregnancy.

Oxytocin: already involved in fertilization

  • In the first place, oxytocin seems to be involved in all the affectionate relationships: it would be a factor favoring the feeling of love, preceding most often the decision to have a child. It also promotes fertilization: in men, it facilitates the ejaculation of sperm and in women, it amplifies contractions of the cervix helping sperm to progress to the egg.

The functions of oxytocin during pregnancy

  • Oxytocin is not particularly well-known for its functions during pregnancy: it must be recognized that other hormones, such as progesterone, play a more important role during this period. However, oxytocin does fulfill several interesting roles. Know for example that oxytocin has a soothing effect: its production helps to fight stress and live a pregnancy more serenely. It also has a favorable action on sleep. Finally, it promotes the absorption of nutrients by the body during pregnancy.

Oxytocin: what is its exact role during delivery?

  • The dilation of the cervix results in a large production of oxytocin which triggers uterine contractions. Synthesized in larger quantities, it amplifies and accelerates contractions until the baby is born. Oxytocin plays an important role during delivery, but we must remember that other hormones are also involved in the process, such as relaxin for example, which "prepared the ground" by relaxing and relaxing the cervix. uterus as well as various ligaments, cartilage, etc.
  • Good to know: Synthetic oxytocin can also be used by injection to trigger the contractions of a scheduled delivery or speed up contractions when the work lasts too long.

Oxytocin: and after childbirth?

  • When a baby is born, oxytocin is usually at its peak: it causes the mother to feel euphoric and helps her attach emotionally to her baby. In addition, this hormone always causes uterine contractions, which allows the placenta to detach and be evacuated. It also helps the uterus to regain its shape and normal position.
  • Finally, oxytocin participates in lactation: if you choose to breastfeed your baby, it will facilitate the ejection of milk by causing the contraction of the mammary glands.