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Labour Hormones

Updated: Jun 9, 2021

Our bodies are clever things aren’t they. Towards the end of pregnancy we have an important hormone shift to help things along:

- Oxytocin levels rise to fuel our surges

- Endorphin levels rise to provide powerful, natural pain relief

A winning combination! But in order to be ‘in charge’ of events, oxytocin and endorphins need calm, quiet and privacy. They can quite easily be blocked by our (not so good) friend adrenaline. Adrenaline can great sometimes – who doesn’t love being thrown around by a rollercoaster, right?! But in labour… not so much.

Adrenaline is our ‘fight or flight’ hormone which directs our blood away from the uterus to our limbs and other major organs. It can slow labour, make it less efficient and therefore make us more tired.

Natural, transient, peaks of adrenaline are normal – during ‘transition’ for example, when we’re close to our cervix being fully dilated, we have a surge of adrenaline to make sure we haven’t fallen asleep and are ready to welcome our baby. It’s also very common for surges to slow briefly (again due to adrenaline) when met with a new environment (hospital, birth centre) or care giver. Things will pick back up when feeling settled again.

But tension, anxiety and fear all cause oodles of extra adrenaline that we don’t need and can be actively unhelpful in our labour. Being aware of these hormones and what we can do to help keep adrenaline spikes at bay is all a part of hypnobirthing.

Things that can help:

- Hypnobirthing toolkit: breathing techniques, guided relaxations, positive affirmations, visualisations

- Environmental changes – lighting, smells, noise levels

- Being very well informed and prepared through antenatal education

- Supportive birth partner(s)

If you’re interested in learning more about hypnobirthing and in-depth antenatal classes drop me a message and check out the courses available to book via

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