Prolactin and oxytocin are released in response to stimulation by the baby's sucking at the breast. Prolactin is responsible for milk production, and oxytocin for milk letdown.
Birth and Breastfeeding
However, these hormones are beneficial in other ways. Oxytocin is responsible for the relaxed, sometimes sleepy, calm feelings that accompany milk letdown. Together, these two hormones keep mothers relaxed, calm, and ready to care for their babies Uvnas-Moberg, In a very real sense, the birth of a baby is also the birth of a mother—the birth of a breastfeeding baby and mother. Events surrounding the birth can sabotage nature's plan. Many of the birthing practices that are considered almost routine induction, epidurals, separation of the mother and her baby interfere in powerful ways with the hormonal orchestration of labor and birth and, ultimately, with breastfeeding.
The best way to insure that both the mother and her baby are ready for birth is to allow labor to start on its own. A baby that is even a little early is more likely to have difficulty with breastfeeding. As a result, the pituitary is not stimulated to release endorphins. Without the pain-relieving help of abundant endorphins, women who are induced with pitocin are more likely to require epidurals. Without high levels of oxytocin and endorphins, a surge in catecholamines does not occur as the birth becomes imminent.
The disruption of the hormonal orchestration of labor results in women giving birth with relatively low levels of naturally occurring oxytocin, endorphins, and catecholamines. Consequently, the outcome of low hormonal levels is a less responsive mother and baby Odent, Another unintended outcome of epidural analgesia is an increased risk of instrument birth Lieberman O'Donoghue, The trauma to the baby can make it painful for him to assume the natural, instinctive positioning for breastfeeding and can contribute to a difficult latch.
Newborn care practices also affect breastfeeding. Bathing possibly removes the smell of the amniotic fluid, a guide to finding the nipple. These birthing practices—induction, epidurals, instrument delivery, routine newborn care, and separation of the mother and her baby—create many of the problems we see in the early hours and days of breastfeeding. The typical problems that plague early breastfeeding—difficult latch, sore nipples, sleepy baby, and engorgement—are rare when the mother has had a normal birth and has not been separated from her baby.
Keeping the mother and her baby together, especially in the skin-to-skin position, goes a long way toward solving problems that may develop. When the baby stays with his mother, who responds quickly to early infant feeding cues, nursing her baby frequently around the clock, engorgement does not occur. Remaining in close, physical contact with his mother, the baby's temperature, heart rate, and respirations are more stable. The result is a good milk supply and a thriving baby.
Getting breastfeeding off to the best possible start means choosing normal birth and selecting caregivers and places of birth that promote, protect, and support normal birth. Introduce women in your classes to the six care practices that promote, protect, and support normal birth Lamaze International, , Some labors and births require medical intervention. Encourage the women in your classes to keep birth as normal as possible if complications arise and medical interventions are needed. If labor is complicated e. If birth has been difficult for the baby, advise the women in your classes to expect the early days of breastfeeding to be challenging for them and their baby.
Healthy doses of both patience and confidence will be needed.
The Birth of a Breastfeeding Baby and Mother
Help the women in your classes to know that a normal birth gets breastfeeding off to the best possible start. To learn more about the relationship between birth and breastfeeding, read Impact of Birthing Practices on Breastfeeding: Smith Jones and Bartlett, This book is available at the Lamaze International Bookstore and Media Center call toll free at or order online at www. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List J Perinat Educ v. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer.
Copyright A Lamaze International Publication.
This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract In this column, the author describes the way in which the normal, natural process of labor and birth prepares both mother and baby for breastfeeding. Reader's Question I would like to do more to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding in my childbirth classes. Columnist's Reply Breastfeeding is an integral part of the childbirth education curriculum.
Nature's Perfect Breastfeeding Preparation From the start of pregnancy, the preparation for breastfeeding begins. Hormonal Influences The hormonal orchestration of labor and birth sets the stage in a more immediate way for the process of breastfeeding for both the mother and her baby.
The Birth of a Breastfeeding Baby and Mother
Interference from Routine Interventions Events surrounding the birth can sabotage nature's plan. Promoting Normal Birth The typical problems that plague early breastfeeding—difficult latch, sore nipples, sleepy baby, and engorgement—are rare when the mother has had a normal birth and has not been separated from her baby. Recommended Reading To learn more about the relationship between birth and breastfeeding, read Impact of Birthing Practices on Breastfeeding: Early skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their healthy newborn infants Cochrane Review. In The Cochrane Library, 3.
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Effect of labor epidural anesthesia on breastfeeding on healthy full-term newborns delivered vaginally. Journal of the American Board of Family Practitioners. R, Sakala C, Corry M. P, Applebaum S, Risher P. The first national U. Also, retrieved December 13, , from www.
Until recently a woman could not have had a baby without releasing a complex cocktail of 'love hormones'. In many societies today, most women give birth without relying on the release of such a flow of hormones. Some give birth via caesarean section, while others use drugs that not only block the release of these natural substances, but do not have their beneficial behavioural effects.
At a time when pleas for the 'humanization' of childbirth are fashionable, the author suggests, rather, that we should first accept our 'mammalian' condition and give priority to the woman's need for privacy and to feel secure.
The activity of the intellect, the use of language, and many cultural beliefs and rituals - which are all special to humans - are handicaps in the period surrounding birth. She needs to feel unobserved. The newborn baby needs the skin of the mother, the smell of the mother, her breast. These are all needs that we hold in common with the other mammals, but which humans have learned to neglect, to ignore or even deny. Product details Format Paperback pages Dimensions x x Looking for beautiful books?
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