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Oxytocin and Breastfeeding

Sometimes known as the “love hormone”, Oxytocin is responsible for that warm, fuzzy feeling you get during a hug.

It influences our social relationships, and is a chemical building block of empathy, bonding, trust and love. Produced by the pituitary gland in the brain, Oxytocin helps us to relax, lower blood pressure, contract our muscles as well as lower our stress and anxiety levels. It is a particularly important hormone for women, as it helps with childbirth and breastfeeding.

How Does Oxytocin Affect Breastfeeding?

Oxytocin Engages the Let-Down Reflex 
The let-down reflex is defined as the release of breast milk from your breasts . Whenever your baby latches onto your nipples, nerve cells in your breasts send a signal to your brain that trigger the release of oxytocin — causing the muscles around the milk glands and milk ducts in 
your breast to contract and push breast milk through your breast.  

Oxytocin Builds the Motherly Bond 
Remember how Oxytocin influences our social relationships? The release of Oxytocin also triggers feelings of love and nurturing, fostering a strong emotional bond between mother and child.

Oxytocin and Your Uterus 
Besides breastfeeding, Oxytocin is also closely connected to your uterus. This hormone is responsible for causing the uterus to contract and push out your baby during childbirth. Which is why some women experience uterine contractions while breastfeeding . These uterine contractions are commonly referred to as after pains and can feel similar to menstrual cramps. Although painful, they help to lessen postpartum bleeding and help shrink the uterus back to its normal size after pregnancy. 

Other Effects of Oxytocin 
Oxytocin can also trigger a variety of bodily reactions while you are breastfeeding. Not all of these reactions happen around your breast area.  
Look for one or more of these signs to tell whether Oxytocin is being released : 

  • You feel sleepy or relaxed 
  • Your body temperature rises and you feel warmer 
  • You feel thirsty 
  • You feel like you have a headache 
  • You feel a tingling sensation in your breast 

What Affects Oxytocin Release? 
There are several factors that can interfere with a woman’s release of Oxytocin and her ability to breastfeed.  

  1. Pain after giving birth is a common cause for a lack of Oxytocin. Women who have been prescribed pain medication by their doctor should take it to ensure a smooth breastfeeding experience. Take note that it is normal for the pain medication to make your baby feel a bit sleepy. 
  2. Women who have undergone breast surgery might also find it difficult to breastfeed. Some surgery can cause nerve damage in the nipple, which in turn interferes with your body’s ability to signal your brain to release Oxytocin.  
  3. Lastly, lifestyle factors such as increased stress, fatigue, alcohol and smoking can also affect the release of Oxytocin and your ability to breastfeed. To prevent this, mothers should continue to practice self-care after giving birth to be able to breastfeed and care for their baby. 

 
Our Little Lamb offers a wide range of breast pumps and other nursing equipment to make breastfeeding easier for mothers. Using its patented 3D pumping technology, Horigen breast pumps ensure comfort for breastfeeding mothers while simultaneously increasing the generation of oxytocin. 
 
Horigen breast pumps use a fully structured liquid silicon that’s as soft as a baby’s pacifier. This material wraps itself around the nipple once pressure is exerted to stimulate and massage the nipple — sending signals to the brain to increase the generation of oxytocin. 

Visit us at https://ourlittlelamb.com/

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Reference:

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK148970/ 
2 https://www.verywellfamily.com/oxytocin-and-breastfeeding-3574977 
3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12927631 
4 https://aeroflowbreastpumps.com/blog/oxytocin-and-breastfeeding 

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