Oxytocin - The love hormone...AND... the hormone which can ensure that you have regular and effective surges during birth. Oxytocin is the main hormone for birth which is going to keep your labour ticking along perfectly, moving things forward and ensuring that every surge (or 'contraction' if you prefer) is as effective as possible to bring your baby closer to your arms.
Now, there are many ways that oxytocin production can be encouraged and increased - many of these I cover in the hypnobirthing course I teach, however, here is one very simple technique that you can easily do for yourselves - and which can make an enormous difference in your own body's oxytocin levels when the time comes to birth your baby.
As well as increased oxytocin production, this technique also has the following benefits:
- Fully involves your partner in pregnancy, birth & your ability to increase your oxytocin levels.
- Provides you with a focussed daily relaxation exercise which helps you to prepare for the birth of your baby.
- Brings you and your partner closer... it’s worth doing for this alone!
To find out more about, and begin using this simple technique either watch the video for a 10 minute explanation of the steps, or see below for step to step written instructions... and enjoy!
Find a Happy Loved Up Memory
Set some time aside with your partner, no TV, no phones, no distractions. Just the two of you, perhaps some nice music and somewhere comfy... and just talk. Talk about a time you both remember well and enjoy remembering too. This memory you share must really evoke those loved up honeymoon time type memories that you both felt when you first met or a time you have felt particularly close and in love.
2. Relive this Memory through your Conversation & Interaction
Spend at least 30 minutes talking about this memory. Together, recall it through all of your senses:- VAKOG
- V - Visual - what do you recall seeing? - colours, light, shadow, objects, shape etc...
- A - Audio - what do you recall hearing? - voices, words, environment sounds, loud, soft, internal voice...
- K - Kinesthetic - what do you recall feeling? - not just temperature, physical sensations, textures, but importantly, emotions and where these emotions sit within your body - can you describe this - how big is the feeling, does it have a shape, colour, size... does it move in a certain way/direction etc...
- O - Olfactory - do you recall any specific smells? - It's okay if you don't, just notice and enjoy if you do and bring the smell back into the here and now.
- G - Gustatory - do you recall any specific taste? - once again, it's okay if you don't, just notice and enjoy if you do and bring this taste back into the here and now.
Imagination is as powerful as memory and, simply by remembering in this detail, your body will physiologically respond as though you are actually still in the memory and re-living it as though it is now. Pretty clever stuff.
3. Label the Memory - Give it a Title
One or two words is enough - any more than this and it's too long. Just mutually agree a short word or phrase which you know that, whenever these words are said, you know what you're both talking about and your memory comes straight to mind.
4. Practise Breathing
This breathing technique is excellent to use between surges/contractions during labour.
The only instruction for your breathing is for it to be relaxed & make sure that your out-breath takes longer than your in-breath. You can count at first if this helps, and I encourage you to lose the counting once you are feeling more comfortable with this. Breathing in this way means that, as you breathe out, you are relaxing more and are more open to taking on positive suggestions and feelings. As a trainee hypnotherapist I spent an awful lot of time just talking on a persons out-breath for this specific reason.
5. Add in your Oxytocin Anchor
Now you are comfortable with this simple breathing technique, find some time and space for yourself to practise and, on each outbreath, say your memory label - just to yourself on the inside. Repeat this with each out-breath and continue for as long as you wish.
Eventually and with regular practise, you will automatically anchor your heightened levels of oxytocin to this breathing technique, et voila... this will be readily available for you when the time comes to give birth to your baby - ensuring you have regular and effective surges as a result of the abundance of oxytocin in your birthing body.
Further birth partner involvement....
Many women don't want to be talked to during labour - it activates the neo-cortex (thinking brain), reduces the activity of the part of our brain responsible for birthing, and therefore can have a negative impact on our birth hormones. But wouldn't one word be okay?
Imagine, all your birth partner has to do is say these words and you have immediate and spontaneous access to an abundance of birth hormones flowing through your system and making birthing easier and quicker. At any time during birthing, your partner can assist you not only emotionally, but on a physical level too.
Additionally, throughout the rest of your pregnancy, perhaps encourage your partner to say your label at random and unexpected times during your day to day... and just be curious to notice what happens - this is another great way to strengthen this anchor, your oxytocin levels and, just as importantly, your deep connection to each other as birthing partner, supporter, friend and lover.