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Oxytocin and Parenting

June 7, 2012 Oxytocin And Adoption No Comments

One of the most moving experiences of our, relatively, short lives occurs when we become parents – and not just for the first time either.

Seeing your offspring ‘live and kicking’, watching them smile, hearing them cry for the first time are all aspects of our lives that we cannot replace. Holding baby for the first time – whether mother or father, is when bonds that last a lifetime are formed. Sometimes, however, it doesn’t all go according to plan and the bond is harder to create – maybe it’s because the baby has difficulty suckling, or perhaps the mother is suffering from the after effects, sometimes it can be because the baby was born caesarean – but the impact can be dramatic.

Whatever the outcome bonding is important and when it doesn’t happen we all feel at a loss.  Is there anything that might be done to allay these issues?

A study reported recently (2010) in the online journal of ‘Society of Biological Psychiatry’  suggested that; “…parenting is considered the cornerstone of the individual’s well-being and adaptation throughout life.” In effect, if you don’t get it right at the beginning, then it could be an uphill struggle from there on in.

The report goes on to examine the effects that a little talked about hormone called oxytocin can have on the relationship between parents and child.  I say little known because, apart from a number of scholarly and academic papers, oxytocin hasn’t achieved the notoriety that Viagra has for its part in the physical aspects of a relationship.

First discovered in 1909 by Sir Henry Dale, oxytocin (name derived from the Greek ‘speedy birth’) is produced in the pituitary gland and plays a key role in the processes leading up to and immediately following birth – it assists in the contraction of the uterus and also acts as a stimulus for lactation.  But it does much more than that, as it also provides the basis for relationships, feelings and bonding between individuals.

If the body isn’t producing sufficient oxytocin then parents might just find it difficult to bond – not because they don’t want to, but because their body isn’t providing enough oxytocin to promote the relationship forming.  There is hope, however, in the form of a non-prescription treatment often useful when the mother is undergoing postnatal depression symptoms. It is readily available, as an ‘over the counter’ medication from your drug store or online. The medication can be found as the Oxytocin Factor sublingual drops or the nasal spray. Both forms are easy to use and can begin to take effect within ten minutes to a quarter on an hour and the results can be sustained for several hours. As its name suggests, the sublingual treatment takes the form of drops to be placed under the tongue – allowing for ease of absorption through the mucus membrane into the bloodstream.  The drops can often be a more palatable form that the nasal spray, that has exactly the same effect but is inhaled rather than absorbed – again the effect is for several hours.

However, Oxytocin Factor isn’t a substitute or replacement therapy, it should be considered as a way of ‘kick starting’ the process of bonding, it isn’t a replacement for the love and affection that a mother and father can lavish on their new-born, but it can help.

An additional and positive side effect is that oxytocin is naturally occurring and as well as enabling the bonding processes to take place it can radically impact of postnatal depression and allow all the parties in the relationship to relax into a more positive frame of mind – maybe even to restore sleep patterns, although disturbed nights are one of life’s rich tapestries of parenting. If mother is relaxed and the production of milk stimulated, then the baby ought to suckle more readily and both mom and baby will be easier.  If they are ‘at ease’, their mood will transfer to the father and the process of creating a life-long bond can begin – reflecting ‘the cornerstone…of well-being’ that was mentioned earlier.

Little did Sir Henry Dale realize when he published his discovery just over a century ago that his work would form the foundation of understanding what goes into making a long-lasting relationship between mother, father and child – he did, however, receive a Nobel Prize for his work.

For more information contact Bryan Post, Managing Editor of Oxytocin Central info@oxytocincentral.com or call (405) 476-1983


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