Does Your Mother-In-Law Create Oxytocin?

Last week we discussed building a labor cave. Oxytocin in a key ingredient in labor. It not only causes contractions, it also acts as a natural pain reducer as people touch us and help us to feel good. Often referred to as “the love hormone” it is what makes cuddling and smooching so enjoyable.

One important thing to consider when creating your oxytocin rich labor environment is the people you invite. As a doula in Maine, my experience has been that the hospitals do not limit the amount of support people a woman can have at a low risk vaginal birth. Something to consider carefully, however, is whether the people you are planning to have present at your birth create oxytocin or adrenaline. Adrenaline isn’t a bad hormone, but it is the arch nemesis of oxytocin particularly during labor. Too much adrenaline could potentially disrupt your natural labor pattern and potentially cause you to experience more discomfort as you are distracted from “labor land”.

Perhaps your sister/mother/mother-in-law would love to attend your birth and has been vocal about it to you. You, of course love her, and do not want to disappoint. However, she has high anxiety and tends to be very verbal when she is nervous. How would this affect your labor? How would it affect your emotional well being? Does your sister create oxytocin in you, or adrenaline? If your answer is adrenaline, than perhaps she is not a good choice for a labor support person. There are other ways to include family in your plan. You could ask her to be your baby’s first visitor. You could ask her to be your liaison to the rest of the family, by contacting her with your announcement and having her make calls for you. You could ask her to care for you and your new little one in your first days home. Typically family is very excited and eager to help, they just need some direction.

Pregnancy and Birth are the beginning of your parenting journey. It is likely that during this journey, you will need to advocate for yourself and/or your child. You will potentially, at some point, need to tell someone you love that they need to get on board with your parenting methods. This is a great time to practice this. Have a conversation with your loved ones and explain your hopes and wishes for your birth. Let them know that they are important in your life and the life of your child, but that you are limiting the people who attend the birth itself. Setting clear boundaries ahead of time can ease stress and anxiety going into your final weeks of pregnancy. Start considering who are your best oxytocin builders now.  Your doula can help you consider your options.

2 thoughts on “Does Your Mother-In-Law Create Oxytocin?

  1. This is such a great article!

    When we had our first daughter it was just me, my spouse and the staff were present. With our second daughter, we had a homebirth with the lovely ladies of Morningstar Midwifery out of Belfast Maine. It was us, them, and our friend/neighbor to assist with our now 2 year old. A small entourage was perfect for us. A big entourage may be perfect for others. The key is… it is the laboring mom’s choice – before and even during labor. Whatever makes laboring mom most comfortable is best!

    Thank you for the wonderful blog!

    1. Thanks Laura! We couldn’t agree more. Every woman is different. But considering how each member of the group makes you feel is the most important step.

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