OXYTOCIN, BREAST FEEDING & MASSAGE

by Jo on June 20, 2011

Oxytocin is the hormone released as you breastfeed and research shows that breastfeeding helps mothers bond with their babies. It is released into the blood during labour to promote lactation and floods the brain during a feed.

A recent study undertaken at Warwick University showed that during  breast feeding  the extra release of Oxytocin created a ‘positive feedback loop ‘; this is when the nerve cells detect the hormone so the hypothalamus produces more. (A little like how milk is produced a great supply and demand system.) The hypothalamus is an ancient part of our brain that controls body temperature, thirst, hunger, anger, levels of pleasure and tiredness.  All basic survival needs. When Oxytocin is released it make us feel nurtured, cared for and calm, lowering levels of cortisol which is responsible for our fight & flight response. It is sometimes called the ‘love hormone’ and we actually produce it even when not breastfeeding and men produce it to.
So what’s the connection with massage? Well when you receive a massage you and your therapist also produce Oxytocin. I teach adults and mums and babies how to do massage and I have been witness to a very common sight,  students watching a demonstration quite often yawn and sometimes struggle to concentrate as the teaching room becomes awash with Oxytocin. They almost feel as good as the demonstration body.
Scientists are looking at producing a synthetic Oxytocin to help with depression, some childhood behavioural disorders and shyness.
Well you know what?  Massage is much easier to do and something that everyone can learn, so why produce something synthetically when our body is totally capable of producing it naturally. Studies show that children who have the ‘massage in schools programme’ concentrate much better, adults who have regular massage feel better able to cope with modern life stresses and patients with long term illness report a better quality of life when they receive regular massage.
So why not take note of this recent research and let something so natural as breastfeeding and the hormone that it produces keep us feeling good long after we have weaned our babies and spend a little time every few days massaging our children and loved ones to keep that bond and to enhance our well being.
If you would like personal or professional advice on any of the above, you can contact Jo atjo@fromtheseed.co.ukfrom the seedoffers bespoke holistic care from conception to baby and beyond,  for more info visit www.fromthe seed.co.uk

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