What Is Oxytocin & Why Is It Important?

Oxytocin: what is it, and why do I need to know about it?

  • Oxytocin is one of the many hormones in the body.
  • It is “the love hormone,” “the hug hormone,” and “the cuddle chemical.”
  • It gets released when you feel happy, safe, and loved.
  • It helps you bond with friends, family, lovers, and babies.
  • It is crucial to the processes of labor and breastfeeding.

Really? How is that last one connected at all?

Oxytocin is released by the pituitary gland, which sits in your brain. When it is released, it causes feelings of love and happiness, and—in laboring women—it causes uterine contractions. The higher your oxytocin levels, the more your labor should progress. This is why doctors administer Pitocin (which is a synthetic form of oxytocin) when they worry that a labor is stalled. But Pitocin comes with greater pain and risks of complications than natural oxytocin does, so it is best to try to get your oxytocin flowing on your own as you labor, avoiding Pitocin unless truly, medically necessary.


In addition to speeding your labor along, following the following tips and having high levels of natural oxytocin will make your labor more enjoyable. After your little one is born, it will help you to bond with him. Should you decide to breastfeed, oxytocin is the hormone that triggers the let-down reflex.

So how can you get your oxytocin flowing? First of all, feel safe. This means that your labor room should only be filled with people that you want there. Stress holds oxytocin back. NO STRESS. Got it? Good.

Play your favorite music in the background. Maybe your care provider will agree to dim the lights, for a more soothing atmosphere. It’s your labor, so do it your way.

Dance with your partner. It sounds crazy, but movement during labor helps your baby descend and connecting—especially through touch—with your loved ones causes a massive bump in oxytocin. Bonus points for extended eye contact. Double bonus points for kisses.

Laughter helps too, so be open to humor. A lot of life is in the mindset, so if you go into labor wanting to laugh throughout, you may be surprised at how easy it is. You can even get an oxytocin boost by faking a smile! My favorite way to induce laughter is through Laughter Yoga. I highly recommend looking into it.

Happy labor! (It is possible)

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