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Hormones in Pregnancy and Childbirth

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    Hormones in Pregnancy and Childbirth

    Hormones in Pregnancy and Childbirth

    There are several hormones that are involved in pregnancy and childbirth. From the moment of conception the hormonal balance changes and this affects the whole physical functioning and well being of the mother. Understanding of these hormonal changes is really important so that mothers can see them as positive and natural part of pregnancy, and make use of this information when it comes to childbirth.

    “Good” hormones

    Relaxes the ligaments of the body, resulting in more flexibility and more room in the pelvis, so that the baby can easier be born through the birth canal. Understanding that the pelvis is not a “solid mass” of bones, but rather a flexible and stretchable part of the body is important when it comes to giving birth, and chose positions for the labour.

    - The main hormone – hormone of love.
    - Shapes the patterns of the contractions in the labour. Is released due to pressure on the cervix (the babies head) and when the baby passes through the birth canal. This is similar to the response that the body makes in lovemaking, when the penis touches the walls of the vagina – giving stimulation and making the cervix “suck” the sperm into the uterus.
    - Some women actually describe birth as an orgasmic kind of feeling, just around the time the babies head is out and at that moment the oxytocin reaches one peak, to give the woman strength to push the rest of the body out.
    - Warms up the breasts to make them ready for the baby.
    - Contracts the uterus after the birth to decrease the bleeding.
    - Stimulates the production of milk and let-down reflex.

    - Similar to morphine/pethidine drugs, but produced naturally in the body when we feel good.
    - Is produced in the body when we are under stress and need assistance. When no pain relief we have a lot of endorphin production. The main effects are: Feeling good, decreases pain, makes you forget time and place.
    - Does not work when we have “fight and flight” situation – so the main enemy of this hormone is adrenaline.

    “Bad” hormones

    - Is active when we are afraid or suddenly stressed- blood is directed from the internal organs to the limbs and heart to help us to “fight and flight”.
    - In labour usually it results in either of the two: 1. The labour slows down a lot/stops 2. The labour is finished very quickly.
    - Reasons for more adrenaline production could be: New environment, new people, bright lights, noise, being afraid (for example many women are afraid of passing bowels in the pushing stage and that inhibits the labour), previous negative sexual experience, induction of labour and many other situations.

    Results: Stimulate Oxytocin production, reduce adrenaline - have a good hormonal balance in labour:

    • - Upright positions – more pressure on the cervix.
      - Open up your pelvix, squat, toilet, birth ball and so on.
      - Privacy.
      - Chose a doctor/midwives that you can trust and have met before the labour.
      - Believe in nature and think positive.
      - Stimulate your clitoris and nipples (by hand before/in labour and breastfeeding after the birth).
      - Massage of the perineum.
      - Anything that makes you relax and feel good: Baths, massage, breathing, having your partner with you, turning off the lights, music and so on.
      - Regular eating and drinking.

    Source: Annerley Midwives September 2002
    For more information contact Hulda Thorey

    Last edited by rani; 12-06-2002 at 09:35 PM.

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