On the positive effects of hormones at birth
The main birthing hormone is oxytocin, which is also known as the hormone of love! It is the same hormone we experience during love making, when we laugh with friends, when we feel good. During labour and birth we want high levels of oxytocin in order for labour to progress efficiently and effectively. To keep levels of oxytocin high, labouring women need to feel private, safe and unobserved.
If we are scared or feel unsafe, we will decrease our levels of oxytocin and raise levels of adrenaline, slowing and stopping the process of labour. The other wonderful birthing hormone is endorphin, also known as nature's Morphine. This is the same hormone that is released when you exercise, to help you get through the experience of a long run, a mountain hike or any kind of endurance exercise. Endorphins make us feel good and take us into what is known as "labour land".
On the stages of labour
There are three stages of labour. It all begins with pre-labour, which is when the body is showing signs of readiness, which can vary from period pain to cramps, to feeling gentle surges of energy waving through the body. The labour will then progress to active stage which is when a woman's body is opening up to allow the baby to come through. This is a very important time for her to feel private, safe and unobserved. Then comes transition, when her body is making changes again physically and hormonally for the third stage. This is when the baby is moving down through the birth canal to be born.
On the benefits of touch
Touching with love is key through labour. Touch primes oxytocin, especially when the person who is touching you is your beloved, or a trusted birth partner or friend. Humans need touch, it is healing beyond words. It can comfort us in times when we need profound support, it can take away fear and offer much relief of discomfort and intensity experienced through birth.