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Hormonal Orchestra during Labour and Birth

Your hormones are like a finely-tuned orchestra that work together in perfect harmony to bring your baby from your uterus into your arms.

When one of these hormones is disrupted (usually by some type of outside interference) it’s like one of the instruments in the orchestra going off tune, confusing the rest of the instruments and the melody. Sometimes, that instrument can be re-tuned and brought back into the orchestra but other times you need outside intervention to help the orchestra make that beautiful music again.
For this reason, it’s important for the hormones of birth to have an environment where they can do their work. What each of them do, like and don’t like is explained in this illustration.

Hormonal Orchestra

Hormones in late pregnancy and early labour help prepare you for an efficient labour and birth, lactation and attachment, help ensure your foetus will tolerate labour and transition to live outside the womb easily. During active labour, your hormones will ensure that your postpartum uterine waves (contractions) are effective at bringing baby lower and out of your body. After birth, hormones and skin to skin contact help prevent excess bleeding, initiate bonding and help successfully establish breastfeeding.

Optimising the release of hormones during labour and birth

Your environment and state of mind are key in helping your hormones do their work to labour and birth. First and foremost, women who are giving birth must feel fully safe to optimise their hormonal orchestra - the hormonal process is similar to the conditions you need to reach orgasm, and can include needing
• To have full privacy, since feeling watched or judged inhibits the production and release of oxytocin. You need to feel free to move around and make the noises that feel good (often, these are low noises that sound orgasmic)
• To be with people who you make you feel safe and cared for (which is why knowing your healthcare providers is so important)
• To feel fully undisturbed, with those present being quiet and unassuming, not talking to you, touching, interfering or getting out of your ‘zone’ of concentration
• Warmth and darkness, which stop the production of adrenaline and encourages the flow of melatonin
To optimise the flow of hormones during labour and birth, the environment has to be as low-stress as possible. Low stress levels help your labour progress, help you cope with labour waves (and reduce the need for pain medication), help control your bleeding after birth and help your newborn adapt to life outside the womb.

Oxytocin and adrenaline are antagonists - that means they cannot be present in your body the same time. If you are stressed or afraid, you cannot release oxytocin.