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The Amazing Prolactin & Oxytocin!

April 8, 2010


“…As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you;
and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”
Isaiah 66:13


I am continually amazed and overwhelmed by Gods perfect design for mothers; He created our bodies to feed, nurture and comfort our children. I’ve recently been reading about what happens to our bodies during these times and the bonding/nurturing affect it has on the mother and the child;

Ladies we are pretty amazing!!

Instead of me giving you snippets of what I’ve read, I’ve quoted from an article that Nancy Campbell has written (which is also in her book ‘The Power of Motherhood’) entitled ‘Mothers are Nuturers’. Nancy writes here about Prolactin and Oxytocin:

Prolactin

When a mother is nursing her baby, the hormone, prolactin, is operating. This is a very strong ‘love hormone’ which bonds the mother to her baby. Animal studies with this hormone are most interesting. When it is injected into a rooster, it will make the rooster become clucky and mother chickens!

How about that? A female animal that is nursing her young in the wild will fight to death any intruder upon her young, whereas after weaning, she does not show this protection.

The mother who is nursing her baby is bound to her baby. She finds it hard to leave her baby with a baby-sitter. This is God’s plan. He does not intend for mothers to leave their babies after a few months to pursue their career. They already have a more important career. Breastfeeding ties them to one another.

Oxytocin

This hormone, which is released by the pituitary gland, is the hormone that stimulates the mother’s letdown or milk-ejection reflex (the tingly sensation you feel when the milk lets down). This is a wonderful hormone that has a calming affect upon the mother. Every time the milk ‘lets down’ she experiences a feeling of relaxation and calm and sometimes sleepiness comes over her.

God is good. When we do things His way, we get His benefits. He knows that mothers need this calming hormone and He has graciously provided it for us.

A study cited by Dr. Niles Newton, Professor of Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University of Chicago says “mothers who were exclusively breastfeeding their infants had higher levels of oxytocin during feedings than mothers who were breastfeeding and giving formula supplements.”

Randee Romano writes about a study, which “indicates that the secretion of oxytocin is a conditioned response, meaning that a mother’s body may produce oxytocin in response to familiar sights, sounds, or activities, not just from the direct stimulation of breastfeeding.

In a small sample of nursing mothers, all showed an increase in oxytocin before the baby was put to breast. This will not surprise mothers who feel their milk let down when their babies cry. In fact, half of the women in the study experienced this. An increase in oxytocin levels was also measured in 30 percent of the mothers when their babies became restless and in 20 percent of the women as they were preparing to nurse.”

You can read the whole article on the Above Rubies website here.

How awesome! When we breast feed our babies it makes us calm, relaxed and fall more in love with them; we also continue to reap these benefits for as long as we breast feed for.

My precious little nursling Micah is now almost 21 months old; he mostly nurses before bed, once or twice in the night/early morning (he’s tucked in snug next to me) and occasionally, depending on what is going on he likes to ‘chill’ with Mama and nurse in the day too. It really is as relaxing as putting your feet up with a cup of coffee on a sunny afternoon; breastfeeding IS relaxing…I have to stop myself from falling asleep.

It’s also a great tool for calming down a busy toddler and the best medicine for a poorly little one – I’ve seen nursing work wonders right before my eyes!

Research also shows that if you look at your baby/toddler whilst nursing (rather than watching TV or reading) this increases the levels of Oxytocin – so you feel even more relaxed and ‘gooey’ about your little blessing (and life in general!).

Breastfeeding isn’t easy; I’ve had more challenges nursing Micah than with any of my children BUT I’ve caught a glimpse of the big picture and the personal ‘sacrifice’ is SO worth it for my sons present and future health and well being.


There are so many amazing benefits of nurturing our children the way God designed us to but we’ll explore those another time

May you be richly blessed today!

P.S I found La Leche League very helpful when I was going through a challenging time with Micah when he was about 11 months old. I found lots of great information on the website and they were extremely encouraging when I phoned the phone line; don’t be afraid to ask for help!

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2010 11:25 pm

    Power of Motherhood – fab book! I'm finally enjoying the benefit of this hormone as I'm nursing now – and I can really feel myself relaxing, it's great I'm so much more chilled than wen the others were this age! And I second La Leche they've really helped me xx

  2. April 9, 2010 6:00 am

    Thanks for this post as an expecting mother planning on breastfeeding!

  3. April 9, 2010 6:16 am

    Congratulations Grits Girl; that's amazing news! The experience has got better and better for me with every baby (although not free of its challenges)but I've learnt to persevere.Sarah – You've done AMAZING with this baby; we all feel so proud of you…and you should do too lovely lady 🙂

  4. April 9, 2010 9:14 am

    REALLY great post Leah xx Yay for BREAST !!I just LOVE LOVE LOVE breast feeding…it totally fascinates me…and I really miss it now that Tilly has self weaned 😦 I read the Nancy Cambell book too and it is fantastic..HIGHLY recommended x

  5. April 10, 2010 9:46 pm

    Aint God great!?His wonders never cease!We are fearfully and wonderfully made!! :0)

  6. April 12, 2010 1:32 pm

    Just wanted to share what an encouragement your blog is to me. love this post!

  7. December 2, 2010 4:15 am

    It amazes me how clever our bodies are at changing the composition of breastmilk according to our babies needs. I have found this interesting blog which explains how breastfeeding helps regulate sleep:http://www.nightofthelivingpeeps.com/tag/problem

  8. December 2, 2010 8:58 am

    Hi Rachel, thanks for your comment and the link; love to read and learn more about breastfeeding…I'm 10 weeks off starting all over again with a newborn; CAN'T WAIT!! 🙂

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