Oozing oxytocin

October 25, 2011 at 8:00 am

IMG_4273Several weeks ago, I was at a friend’s house while she was babysitting a newborn.  This little one started to cry not long after her momma left.  Try as she might, my friend couldn’t console that little baby.  She wouldn’t take the bottle her mom had left either.  Eventually, my friend turned to me and said, “Do you want to try?” So I took that little baby. Within moments, she was calm.  Soon, I was able to get her to drink some of her bottle, and she fell asleep for a bit in my arms.

I don’t think my friend was doing anything “wrong,” and I don’t think I was doing anything “right.” But it was apparent that this little one could tell a difference between us. Knowing what I know now, I’d say she could smell and feel that difference. I’ve often heard and read that babies prefer the smell of lactating women to non-lactating women. I’m a lactating mother. I (or, more accurately, my boobs) smell good to babies. But I don’t think it was just the smell of my milk that calmed that little one.

Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg has been studying oxytocin longer than most. In her research, she discovered that injecting male rats with oxytocin would create a domino effect of sorts. The other rats in the cage could smell the increased oxytocin levels among their cage-mates and their own bodies responded by releasing more oxytocin. They also became more calm as a result.  I’d say it is reasonable to assume that we, too, respond to the oxytocin levels of the people around us. (Via Hug the Monkey)

Pitocin’s untold impact

July 21, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Michel Odent, MD, founder of the Primal Health Research Centre, has spent decades studying the “primal period.” Odent defines the primal period—prenatal, birth, and the first year of life—as the time “when the basic adaptive systems—those involved in what we commonly call health—reach their maturity” (Source). Today’s Midwifery Today E-News shared a quote from Odent about synthetic oxytocin [Pitocin] and the potentially detrimental impact it can have on a fetus’s oxytocin receptors. Here’s an excerpt:

80% of the blood reaching the fetus via the umbilical vein goes directly to the inferior vena cava via the ductus venosus, bypassing the liver, and therefore immediately reaching the brain: it is all the more direct since the shunts (foramen ovale and ductus arteriosus) are not yet closed. . . . Furthermore, it appears that the permeability of the blood-brain barrier can increase in situations of oxidative stress—a situation that is common when drips of synthetic oxytocin are used during labor. We have, therefore, serious reasons to be concerned if we take into account the widely documented concept of “oxytocin-induced desensitization of the oxytocin receptors.” In other words, it is probable that, at a quasi-global level, we routinely interfere with the development of the oxytocin system of human beings at a critical phase for gene-environment interaction.

Oxytocin is the hormone of love and bonding and human connection. If the oxytocin system is damaged, or a child’s oxytocin receptors become desensitized, the ramifications are huge. As more and more scientists study oxytocin’s impact, we can see how crucial our body’s oxytocin systems can be for human life, love, and happiness.

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