You know that warm, cuddly feeling you get inside when you think about your little one or when you get a great, big hug from someone you love? That feeling is due to oxytocin, a hormone produced in your body. There is a reason oxytocin is called the love hormone and also the “cuddle hormone”. Oxytocin helps with many different processes, most relevant, the release of breastmilk from the alveoli – the milk-making cells in your breasts. Let’s take a look at this and a few of the other roles it plays:
-Oxytocin is produced in the brain, in the hypothalamus region.The release of oxytocin can result in both physical and emotional changes in the body.
-During labor, oxytocin is involved in contractions of the uterus and helps to expel the placenta.
-Oxytocin is also involved in social bonding. Higher levels of oxytocin were found in couples than single people.
-Oxytocin has also been found to be involved with social behaviors like trust and relaxation.
-Oxytocin can help with maternal bonding behaviors. It also reduces cortisol levels which reduces anxiety and results in a calming effect. It also helps to lower blood pressure.
-Oxytocin and letdown: Stimulation of the nipples while breastfeeding results in the release of oxytocin into the bloodstream. The release of oxytocin results in contractions of the myoepithelial cells around the alveoli (the milk-making cells), which causes breastmilk being released into the milk ducts. In shorter terms, this is the milk-ejection reflex, also known as the let-down!