Skip main navigation

£199.99 £139.99 for one year of Unlimited learning. Offer ends on 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply

Find out more

The effect of fear on your natural oxytocin

In this video we look at how oxytocin works.
Birth is a normal physiological process, OK, and it works very, very well if you don’t interfere with it. And the trouble is that we do interfere, and I’m not talking about the major interventions like rupturing membranes or giving Syntocinon. Just the fact of a woman having to come into hospital and out of her own nice, secure, little cosy home, being with strangers maybe that she’s never met before, being a bit nervous – is she labour, is she not in labour – or nervous about what might be done or not done. All those cause adrenaline output, which decreases oxytocin. And oxytocin is the hormone that is the most fantastic hormone because it starts labour, continues labour.
It’s the love hormone, makes you fall in love with your baby. It’s the hormone that assists breastfeeding. You know, it’s very, very essential, and adrenaline decreases it. So anything that stresses out a woman in labour can slow down labour. And we just do it all the time, unthinkingly. Even going into a labouring woman’s room, opening the door without knocking or just opening the door even with knocking, that’s enough to kind of lose her concentration or frighten her just very slightly and put things off. So a physiological birth, when it works, works well. When it doesn’t work, it’s usually because we’ve done something to slow it down or stop it.

In this video, Cecily talks about how the body’s natural oxytocin works, and explains how fear can affect it.

This article is from the free online

Journey to birth

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education