How to increase oxytocin naturally for labour

increase oxytocin

by Milli Hill |
Updated on

Before giving birth, the one thing mums should learn about is how to increase oxytocin levels naturally. It's a wonder hormone that you literally can't give birth without according to Milli Hill, mum and author of The Positive Birth Book.

According to Mili, oxytocin is the number one thing you really need to minimise pain during labour. If you're keen to learn more about how to boost your oxytocin levels naturally, Milli has put together a guide on everything you need to know.

What is oxytocin?

Also known as the 'love hormone' and the 'cuddle chemical', oxytocin is the main hormone we make when we fall in love, give birth, breastfeed and bond with our babies. It gives us that warm, fuzzy feeling that we might associate with post-coital bliss.

Oxytocin is so central to the process of giving birth that, if you don't make enough yourself, you will be given a synthetic version of it in a drip. In this manufactured form, it's called 'syntocinon'. Fill your birthday bag to overflowing with oxytocin, and you're much more likely to have a smoother, easier and even less painful labour to help minimise the need for pain relief in labour.

Oxytocin's chief job in labour itself is to strengthen and maintain contractions. The hormone is made in the pea-sized part of your brain called the hypothalamus, and it works on a positive feedback loop - the more you make, the more you keep producing. It's a very happy circle.

Understanding more about this wonder hormone is key to a positive birth, because knowing how to get your oxytocin flowing can really help to keep your labour progressing and help if it stalls or slows.

9 ways to naturally increase oxytocin for labour


Birthing - Oxytocin

mum-holding-bump1 of 9

1) Early Start

Don’t wait ‘til your contractions start before you begin to think about oxytocin. In the final few days of pregnancy, think low light, low noise and low interruptions. So send your partner to the shops for those last-minute bits and bobs you need for your hospital bag!

mum-nesting2 of 9

2) Nest

Take your nesting instinct literally and create your very own nest. Whether you’re in ward, a birthing centre or at home, build a nest using blankets, pillows, yoga mats and cushions on the floor. When you give birth, you have the same needs as any other self-respecting mammal: you need to feel safe, warm and cosy.

woman with sleep mask on 3 of 9

3) Block everything out

If you’re not having a home birth where you can wholly control the noise and who’s visiting, then take proactive action. Use an eyemask and ear plugs or headphones, so you can escape into your own little world.

pregnant woman with partner4 of 9

4) Get loved up

Most of us have a fairly similar idea of the kind of environment we’d like to make love in… candles, log fire, soft rugs, and zero interruptions anyone? The reason we find this sexy is because of oxytocin, so build your birth space along similar lines. Oxytocin thrives on this kind of slightly cheesy romantic setting, and if you throw in a massage and a compilation playlist, then oxytocin will be over the moon in June!

Woman feeling movements of baby belly of her friend.5 of 9

5) Chill out

It's time to really kick back and relax right now more than ever. Your partner may be understandably nervous, but tell them that right now, they simply need to be there for you and help create a calm and relaxed environment. Let them guard your nest and keep you safe, and treat you with the utmost loving care.

pregnant woman and partner kissing6 of 9

6) Kiss

Making out with your partner during the early stages of labour is a great way to get the oxytocin flowing. Even if you’ve never done so before, labour is a great chance to really feel your feminine power as you embrace the sexual energy of making a new life. Kissing, locking eyes, loving talk, sexy talk, and whatever kind of touch you are in the mood for, will all help the oxytocin to flow. And simply having skin-to-contact with your partner will get the oxytocin flowing. You may want to ask the midwife to leave first though!

woman checking breasts7 of 9

7) Twiddle your nipples

Yep, this one is a bit of a taboo topic but, if you want to stimulate oxytocin, anything from nipple twiddling to masturbating to orgasming will help you to progress your labour. It can be especially helpful if your contractions are taking time to get established or are stop-start.

woman in labour with partner8 of 9

8) Feel the love

As you wait for your baby, remember particular times in your life when you felt incredibly loving and loved, and look at photos of these moments to help you. Focus on your love for your soon-to-be-born baby, too. Think about how you already feel about him and visualise how much that love will grow when you first see his face and as you hold him. This is a great technique to use if you’re having a c-section.

woman holding newborn baby9 of 9

9) Get skin-to-skin

No matter what kind of birth you have, get your baby, naked and on your own naked chest, as soon as possible. If you can’t have it right away, don’t worry– it will still feel wonderful hours or even days after the birth. This skin-to-skin bonding also feels amazing, because you, and your baby, will be flooding with oxytocin. Enjoy this delicious feeling!

About the expert

This article is written by mum of three and founder of the Positive Birth Movement, Milli Hill. She writes tips and advice on how to have happier labour experiences.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us
How we write our articles and reviews
Mother & Baby is dedicated to ensuring our information is always valuable and trustworthy, which is why we only use reputable resources such as the NHS, reviewed medical papers, or the advice of a credible doctor, GP, midwife, psychotherapist, gynaecologist or other medical professionals. Where possible, our articles are medically reviewed or contain expert advice. Our writers are all kept up to date on the latest safety advice for all the products we recommend and follow strict reporting guidelines to ensure our content comes from credible sources. Remember to always consult a medical professional if you have any worries. Our articles are not intended to replace professional advice from your GP or midwife.