Welcome to Oxytocin October!
What’s that all about, then, I hear you ask?
Well, oxytocin is a powerful hormone often known as the ‘cuddle hormone’ which is greatly stimulated during sex, birth, and breast feeding – all of which are relevant to #MatExp.
You may already know all about oxytocin (especially if you are an obstetrician or midwife, one would hope!) but if you don’t, here’s a brief overview of what the hormone does…
- It causes cervical dilation and contractions during labour (and it is crucial however and wherever the baby is born)
- When crossing the placenta, maternal oxytocin reaches the baby’s brain and induces a switch in the action of a neurotransmitter which silences the baby’s brain for the period of delivery and reduces its vulnerability to damage
- It aids milk production from the mammary glands to the nipple;
- It plays a central role in sexual arousal, aids orgasm, and there’s speculation the muscle contractions may help the sperm and egg to meet.
- It has a role in increasing trust and reducing fear – which are inherent in the aims of #MatExp: to enable women (and staff) to the best-possible experience of birth with safe, individualised care as detailed in our Heart Values
- It can aid bonding within groups and foster positive attitudes.
Isn’t oxytocin incredible?
The point of this brief biology lesson?
Oxytocin, in short, makes things happen. And so can you, because you are incredible too.
For Oxytocin October we would like to ask you what you will do to make something happen to improve maternity experience?
As ever, it doesn’t matter what your action is – big or small, all actions are valued. It doesn’t matter if it’s something you can start doing every day, whether you can start and complete during October, or if it’s a slow-burning action that will take time to come to fruition.
The important thing is to act. JFDI!
If you’d like to tell us about your action, that would be great. You can do that on the Facebook page, on Twitter (#MatExp #OxyOct) or via our contact form. It’s so we can share all the great work that is going on, we can share learning across the country, and measure the impact of our campaign. Remember we’re steering #MatExp, no one is ‘in charge’ so while by all means ask anyone involved for advice you don’t need to ask for permission!
My action will focus on baby loss, because it is also Baby Loss Awareness Month during October, with the awareness day on October 15. My actions will involve activity relating to #HugosLegacy – working to improve support for bereaved parents. I’ll be writing more about that on my own blog.
(I got the bulleted information from Wikipedia – as I say it’s a very brief overview!)