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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Davis, LMT, CNMT

From Prenatal Massage to Dark Chocolate: Boosting Oxytocin for a Better Birth Experience

Updated: 5 days ago



Provider recommended inductions on the rise (even when they are not medically necessary), and with the risks that this poses to both the baby and the birthing parent, it is worth considering adding in ways to stimulate your own Oxytocin production to boost your opportunities of going into spontaneous labor, which is proven to facilitate a birth experience that is less painful, less lengthy, and sets up your body for an easier postpartum recovery, and bonding with your baby post-birth in the Golden Hour.


Even if the following do not prevent a hospital induction, the benefits will still be present, and there is zero risk to your baby as long as there is not a true medical reason your body shouldn't go into labor on its own (this is extremely rare!)


Before you start:

  • you should be at least 37 weeks. At this point, baby is considered full term.

  • you don't have a diagnosis that makes going into labor naturally contraindicated (your provider will tell you if this is the case)

  • the key to Oxytocin: it has to feel good, feel safe, and feel comfortable. If it doesn't, Oxytocin will not be released, and instead you'll be releasing stress hormone Cortisol. (Fun fact : this good, safe, comfortable combo is the reason many labors start at night in your own bed!)


Let's pump up the Oxytocin! The following will support Oxytocin production in your body, and can be done every hour - every couple hours to encourage labor.

  1. Prenatal Massage! Prenatal Massage, or a Gentle Induction Massage boosts your Oxytocin, reduces Cortisol, balances the pelvis, and helps prepare the body and mind for labor and birth.

  2. Skin to skin with your partner: ask your partner for a hand and foot massage! Skin to skin with someone who makes you feel safe releases Oxytocin within 30 seconds! Skin to skin cuddling also checks this box. Sometimes, you'll hear that sexual intimacy can help start labor - it's important to note that Oxytocin will only be produced if you feel safe, comfortable, and feel good. (Don't get busy unless you're actually into it!)

  3. Nipple stimulation: if you are planning to breastfeed, you can use your pump for this, or you can use your own hands. The website firstdroplets.com teaches you the skill of hand expression with the added benefit of Colostrum collection that you can collect in syringes and freeze to take with you to the hospital!

  4. Miles Circuit: this series of movements, available to you at milescircuit.com can help move along a stalled labor, or encourage progression of labor while encouraging optimal positioning of both your pelvis, and baby's position in your pelvis.

  5. Dark chocolate: eating dark chocolate lights up the pleasure centers in your brain, responsible for releasing Oxytocin. It also releases endorphins (your body's natural pain relievers), Serotonin and Dopamine (mood boosting hormones.) So yeah, enjoy your chocolate, and pack some for your birth bag to savor during labor if you want, too!

  6. Set the mood: think cozy vibes, here. Low lighting, pleasant smells, soft music or sound machine. Set the tone for labor the way you might set up your bathroom for a bath, or a room while you meditate. And no, it's not silly to bring twinkle lights to the hospital for labor, you're tapping into your body's Oxytocin production by avoiding harsh overhead lights, and creating a cozy, comfortable atmosphere to labor in.


Enjoy and savor the experiences of boosting your Oxytocin and remember, it's helping you feel good, safe, comfortable, and loved as it's bringing you closer to meeting your baby!



 


About the author: Photo of samantha davis, lmt certified prenatal and postpartum massage therapist


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