Oxytocin is a hormone that is often referred to as the "hormone of love" or the "bonding hormone." It plays a crucial role in the journey of motherhood, fostering the bond between a mother and her child.
Oxytocin is produced in a warm and nurturing region of the brain called the hypothalamus. This special part of the brain is responsible for releasing hormones that regulate various important physiological functions.
The hypothalamus creates oxytocin, which is then stored in the posterior pituitary gland, ready to be released into the bloodstream. Once released, oxytocin travels through the bloodstream, seeking out specific receptors in various regions of the brain and throughout the body. The receptors for oxytocin can be found in the hypothalamus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex, as well as in nurturing places like the uterus and mammary glands.
Throughout pregnancy, oxytocin levels rise
helping to create a connection between the mother and her growing baby. During labour, oxytocin is the hormone that starts and continues contractions and powers the uterus muscle.
After birth, oxytocin continues to play a special role in motherhood. It helps the mother to form a strong attachment to her baby, promoting nurturing and maternal behaviours. The release of oxytocin during breastfeeding further promotes bonding.
Image: The beautiful, Sophie Pearce @svpearce