Sunday, 29 April 2012

Oxytocin - but no mention of chocolate!

How do I do the MAMA Conference justice?  I'm not sure that it will happen, but hey, a girl can try right?

I've just popped the roast into the oven, so can compose my thoughts for you all.  I shall try not to distracted by the torrential rain outside my window.  

Doula UK are hosting a Study Day that I'm keen to attend, but because of being on call it's not going to happen.  My disappointment is lessened by hearing the amazing Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg on the first day of the Conference.  Her talk was all about Oxytocin: the impact on motherhood.  Talk about preaching to the converted and then blowing said convert's mind!  She didn't just talk about the need for oxytocin in breastfeeding, she talked about skin to skin, kangaroo care and how Dad plays a part.  She didn't, however, mention my favourite oxytocin rush - chocolate.  I was nodding away and saying 'yup, uh huh, that's right, true'.  I was having a wonderful time.  I was surprised though at the number of people who didn't know it as standard, but then isn't that the beauty of Conferences like this?  Gosh but I wish health visitors and more doctors had been in attendance.  They might see the benefit of words of encouragement and be a little wiser in the sharing of the risk factors. 

Of course that leads me nicely to the fact that there is a downside to oxytocin.  A downside?  I know.  I felt the same.  I mean oxytocin=happy loveliness doesn't it?  Free flowing milk, mother baby bonding, laughter, joy, contractions (or surges depending on your preferred language).  But no, apparently there really is a downside and it is the other side of the trust coin.  When oxytocin flows we trust more and walk with the assumption that all is well and that everyone wants the best for us.  One of my beautiful Sister Doulas reminded me of another aspect of that downside.  Labouring mum is oozing oxytocin and suddenly she hands over all that she wanted to the doctor or midwife and blindly trusts that going with the flow is all that she needs to do.  That is one of the reasons I wish more doctors, midwives and health visitors were at the Conference or conferences like it.  

People talk about the lioness aspect of motherhood, the protecting of our cubs.  Well, woe betide anyone who messes with an oxytocin filled mother.  That lioness will roar and you may well lose your head as she reaches out to prevent harm to her cub.  

I, as you might remember, had two Caesarean births.  The first was possibly preventable.  I was induced and my baby wasn't happy with the epidural that I had (it may well have been a combination of both) and the second was a planned Caesarean birth as my twins were a transverse lie.  When Kerstin talked about the effects of oxytocin, so many things were confirmed and made sense to me.  When Number One Son was born, despite the 'emergency' Caesarean birth, I felt such a wave of love (followed by mass exhaustion, but that's another blog).  It was a different story with the Wee Weapons' birth.  They handed me two beautiful babies and I thought 'meh!'.  The wave of love came later with the breastfeeding.  Speaking to Kerstin afterwards was really useful as she mentioned the effect of being a mother already, helped.

So with oxytocin comes the responsibility to be the 'physical and mental hands to hold and support women' [Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg].  The perfect description of a Doula and/or Midwife I think.

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