Saturday, May 21, 2011

Breastfeeding: Oxytocin

If you aren't comfortable with the topic of breastfeeding, skip this post.


Can I just say that I never thought I'd love breastfeeding so much. I know it sounds crazy. I thought it'd be so painful. And such an inconvenience. But the truth is, I love it. The surge of oxytocin makes me happy. It makes me fall more and more in love with this baby girl. As my neighbor put it, "It's like a drug. If I'm having a bad day, I just put the baby to the breast. The oxytocin feels so good. I'm suddenly relaxed."

For anyone unaware, oxytocin is the "love hormone." Females release it during labor and sex. This hormone acts as a bonding agent. So when you see a sexually active teenage girl all hung up over some loser of a guy, you can thank the oxytocin. The hormone has been released during intercourse, and now she feels bonded to him. This is why girls can't "play the field." It's also a great reason to wait to have sex until marriage. It's extremely powerful at bonding. It's not surprising then that this same hormone is also released one other time - during breastfeeding.

When I hold my baby to feed her, I am overcome with love for her. This totally made night feeds bearable. I wondered how moms did it. Oxytocin. Now oxytocin isn't adrenaline. It doesn't just suddenly give you a burst of energy. When I asked my brother-in-law, pre-Lilleigh, how they were doing so well without sleep, he told me, "Where there's a 'why,' there's a 'how.'" That's where oxytocin steps in for me.

Thinking about how powerful this bonding agent is makes me even more in awe of our great God, our Creator. Having a child is such a joyous and trying time. Though you love your baby, all you really want is sleep and a hot shower. Oxytocin is a gift, a saving grace. Isn't interesting how most of the time when a parent leaves it's the dad? Not often is it the mom. This hormone creates a bond that is so important to nature, to the continuity of God's creation. Can you imagine if we had all the hardships of motherhood and none of the joy? Oxytocin is a great replenisher during the gap, between birth, the onset of the sleepless nights, and 6 weeks, when you can expect that first smile.

I have much more I could say about breastfeeding. I'll save it for future posts. But I will say this - I realize a lot of moms give babies formula, whether by choice or necessity, I hope that you can still relate to this. Many of my friends breastfed for at least a short period of time. But even for those who didn't, bottle feeding is a very cool thing too. It's awesome for dads and grandparents to be able to be involved too. That's something we have not been able to experience, since Lil won't take a bottle, but again, that's a topic for a future post!

1 comment:

  1. Great insight!! I hope breastfeeding goes smoothly for me when Makayla gets here!

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