Posts Tagged ‘oxytocin’

Breastfeeding is good for mom and baby

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

In the United States, most new moms (about 80 percent) breastfeed their babies. About half of these moms breastfeed for at least 6 months. You may know that breastfeeding is best for your baby, but did you know that it’s good for you, too? Here’s why breastfeeding is good for both of you:

For your baby, breast milk:

  • Has the right amount of protein, sugar, fat and most vitamins to help your baby grow and develop.
  • Contains antibodies that help protect your baby. Antibodies are cells in the body that fight off infection. In general, breastfed babies have fewer health problems than babies who don’t breastfeed.
  • Has fatty acids, like DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), that may help your baby’s brain and eyes develop. It also may reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Is easy for your baby to digest. A breastfed baby may have less gas and belly pain than a baby who is given formula.
  • Changes as your baby grow, so he gets exactly what he needs at the right time. For the first few days after your baby is born, your breasts make colostrum. This is a thick, yellowish form of breast milk. Colostrum has nutrients and antibodies that your baby needs in the first few days of life. In 3 to 4 days, the colostrum gradually changes to breast milk.

For you, breastfeeding:

  • Increases the amount of a hormone in your body called oxytocin. Oxytocin causes the uterus to contract. These contractions help your uterus go back to the size it was before pregnancy. They also help you stop bleeding after giving birth.
  • Helps reduce stress. The hormones your body releases can help you relax and bond with your baby.
  • May help lower your risk for diabetes, breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
  • Burns extra calories (up to 500 a day). This can help you return to your pre-pregnancy weight in a gradual and healthy way.

Recently, you may have heard in the news about the U.S. delegation’s opposition to a resolution for promoting breastfeeding at the World Health Assembly. March of Dimes released the following statement from President Stacey D. Stewart:

“March of Dimes is appalled to learn of the U.S. delegation’s opposition to a resolution for promoting breastfeeding, at the World Health Assembly this spring. As a leading U.S. health organization that also maintains official relations with the World Health Organization, we can attest to the global scientific consensus that breastmilk is the healthiest option for babies and young children. It is unconscionable that any government would seek to hinder access to the most basic nutrition for children around the globe by opposing the passage of such a resolution for improving the health and survival of babies globally.”

“March of Dimes calls on the Administration to immediately abandon their opposition to this resolution and instead to champion breastfeeding and access to breast milk for all infants and young children everywhere.”

Visit marchofdimes.org for more information.

Breastfeeding can reduce your stress

Monday, April 18th, 2016

2012d032_0483It’s true, breastfeeding releases hormones that help you feel more relaxed.

Oxytocin is one of the hormones your body makes to produce breast milk. Oxytocin is responsible for your milk letdown and also helps your uterus contract to the way it was before you became pregnant. But there’s even more that oxytocin does for moms; it helps you reduce your stress.

Oxytocin is often referred to as the “anti-stress” or “love” hormone and for good reason. Oxytocin is part of a complex interaction in your body that reduces stress and helps you bond with your baby. How does oxytocin do this? The hormone is associated with a decrease in blood pressure and cortisol levels (the hormone released in response to stress).  Oxytocin also increases relaxation, sleepiness, blood flow, digestion and healing. Studies have shown that moms who breastfeed also have a lower response to stress and pain.

So go ahead and take advantage of the benefits of breastfeeding. The deep relaxation may make you feel ready for a nap, so put your feet up while you nurse and take this time to refocus. After you put your baby back in her basinet or crib, take a cat nap to feel reenergized.

For even more benefits of breastfeeding, read our post.

Have questions? Email or text us at AskUS@marchofdimes.org.

What is Pitocin?

Monday, June 25th, 2012

iv-bagPitocin is a medicine that acts like oxytocin, a hormone your body makes to help start labor contractions.  When used, it is administered in the hospital by an IV drip and the dosage is regulated, gradually increasing until labor progresses well.

Contractions, which signal the beginning of childbirth, are when the muscles of your uterus get tight and then relax. They help push your baby out of your uterus (womb). If you’ve ever had a baby, you know and never will forget what contractions are like. But if you’re a first time mom, you might not be too sure in early labor if what you’re experiencing is the real deal.  You can read about contractions and the different stages of labor on our web site.

Sometimes labor begins but doesn’t move along as well as doctors like.  A woman’s water may have broken, but contractions have not started.  Labor may have slowed down or the contractions just may not be strong enough to move labor forward. In these cases, health care providers may use Pitocin to strengthen the contractions.  Other times it may be medically necessary, for the health of the baby or the mother, to induce labor that has not yet begun. This is often the case with women who have reached 42 weeks gestation. Giving the mother Pitocin can induce labor.

If you’re pregnant and your doctor wants to give you something to help your labor progress, you should start having labor contractions shortly after you begin Pitocin. Depending on the dosage you receive, it can make your contractions very strong and may lower your baby’s heart rate.  So, your provider will carefully monitor your baby’s heart rate for changes and adjust the amount of Pitocin you get, if needed.