No, not that kind of oxy, silly! Oxytocin, aka "the love hormone"! (Because its slightly shorter to type out, I'm going to affectionately refer to it as "oxy" in this post though.)
I'm increasingly fascinated by this magnificent hormone that all men and women are both with. We all process it differently and experience it differently, but at the end of the day, we're all hardwired to love and be loved and it is this hormone that's responsible for it. Here's just a few of the fascinating things that I've learned about oxy.
A woman's lifetime peak of oxytocin is right after she gives birth just before the placenta is delivered. Its primarily for this reason, that immediate skin-to-skin contact of the mother and baby after birth is so strongly emphasized. Both the baby and the mother greatly benefit from the bonding hormone being so heightened and it is best to leave the duo uninterrupted for the first moments after birth, especially if the placenta is still in tact.
Oxy stimulates and enhances labor contractions. As the baby moves down into the birth canal, pressure receptors in the cervix (the muscular outlet of the uterus) send messages to the brain to produce more oxy. The oxy travels through the bloodstream to the uterus which stimulates the muscles of the uterine wall to contract. Contractions intensity over time to the point that the baby is outside the birth canal (crowning) and when the stimulation to the pressure receptors fades, oxy stops and labor contractions end.
There's a massive swell of oxy that's released to the baby and the mother as the baby is being born. This is just one of the reasons why immediate skin-to-skin contact for mama and babe right after birth is so powerful!
Oxytocin is released into the bloodstream in small pulses and the more pulses there are, the more effects the body receives. When a mama is breastfeeding, oxy is flowing freely between her and her babe. The suckling baby triggers pulses of oxy to be released which aids in the milk releasing from the breast and into the baby's mouth.
Studies show that oxytocin has a calming effect and can improve mood. It can lower your blood pressure and helps to block stress hormones. It can even help relieve inflammation and stimulate necessary metabolic functions like digestion and growth that might otherwise be slowed for one reason or another. Oxy is present in both females and males, in fact its active in all social interactions, especially positive ones where a person feels safe. It brings about feelings of relaxation, selflessness, bonding and love.
I could go on and on about this amazing human hormone, but for now, I'll end the post here. Don't be surprised to see this topic pop up again - its just all so very fascinating and something that most of us take for granted!