How to reap the benefits of oxytocin

Did you know that oxytocin plays a role in motherhood, not just in birth? And that if you increase your oxytocin, you will feel better, happier, and more loved?  We all know that if we take care of ourselves, we have more to give our babies and partners.

Specifically, if you raise your oxytocin, you will be more relaxed, contemplative, and companionable; you will be more tolerant of monotony and boredom (which can come in handy as you experience long days of doing the same thing over and over with your new baby!); your digestion and appetite will be better; you will have lower blood pressure; wounds will heal quickly; it helps with letdown if you are breastfeeding; and best of all…it is contagious! So if you have high oxytocin, it will flow over to your partner, children, other family.

Sometimes a steaming cup of tea is all you need to boost your oxytocin.

Here are some examples of what can raise and lower your oxytocin:

Things that raise oxytocin Things that lower oxytocin
Warmth

Eating comfort food

Joy

Laughing

Meditation, Yoga, Exercise

Touch, including skin-to-skin

Anything you love!

Cold

Hunger, Dieting

Stress

Over-thinking

Housework

Strict schedules

Birth trauma

A crying baby

Books and experts

Social isolation or too many visitors (you need the right kind of visitors! This video talks about that.)

With new moms, it’s important to try and avoid anything that can lower oxytocin because once a mom becomes stressed, it’s a lot harder to care for a newborn, which while a lovely job, can be a demanding and tiring one. (Just as an example: if you’re breastfeeding and stressed, it’s that much harder to get the baby to latch on. Then the baby is crying. Then you are crying. It’s a vicious cycle. In this case, you need to stop and breathe, think of something that brings you joy, and try again.)

This is where her village of friends, family, postpartum doula comes in. It’s time to call on all those people who said, “Let me know how I can help when the baby comes!” A mom experiencing stress or worry over any of the above oxytocin killers might need someone to hold the crying baby to give her a break, or someone to do the laundry or cook a meal. She needs to be given the confidence to know that the answers to her baby lie within her, that she is the expert, not the author who has never met her baby.

This mom also needs help boosting her oxytocin! And there is a simple way to do that: by making and following your own self-care plan. It’s actually pretty simple:

  • make a list of all the things that bring you joy
  • pick 2 or 3 and determine how you will do them and when
  • write down your intentions and put the reminder somewhere you will see it regularly
  • try these for 6 weeks and see how you feel!

Here are a few examples:

  • When my partner is home from work, I’m going to garden outside for an hour by myself twice a week.
  • After my baby goes to bed, I’m going to read a chapter in my book before I go to bed each night.
  • Every day I’m going to take the baby and I for a walk, even if it’s just down the street.
  • My baby and I will bathe together, since I don’t have much time to myself, and we will do it when baby is happiest, so mid-morning.

Not everyone has a village or support: if you are a single parent or solo parenting with a spouse who has to work away a lot, there are still ways to take care of yourself. This post explains one such example.

The video below will walk you through how to create your own self-care plan and give you more examples of oxytocin boosters!

I would love to help you boost your oxytocin or hear what are your favourite oxytocin boosters! Shoot me an email below and I will hook you up with your own self-care plan template and follow up with you in 6 weeks so you don’t have to add that to your to-do list (thus, lowering your oxytocin!).

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