Because many of us celebrate St. Valentine’s Day on February 14th, we thought how better to celebrate than to talk about “Oxytocin - the Love Hormone”. Now like all great loves, we know that it can be a love-hate relationship. As Perinatal Nurses know all too well, nurses who carefully titrate this drug in labor (and often go to the mat to protect laboring women from overuse of oxytocin), the love hormone can be too much of a good thing in the wrong hands.
Kerstin Uvnas Mobergin in her book “ Oxytocin, the Love Hormone” discusses how oxytocin helps mothers bond with babies, and sometimes with the adults in their lives. Oxytocin’s impact on successful breastfeeding is also well known. Nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical companies have bottled this elusive hormone for home use as a nasal spray in what some believe to be the answer to stimulating human attachment behavior.
So as we celebrate February 14th, the day set aside for recognizing those we love, it is important to remember to use the love hormone judiciously when it comes to laboring women. As we become better stewards of patient safety related to oxytocin, remember that childbearing women are hardwired to produce and uptake oxytocin as needed and a little goes a long way. Further, ongoing research about oxytocin suggests that oxytocin may be related to broader emotions and may not be all about love. The following Ted Talk suggests that oxytocin may be important for a multitude of emotions.
Hopefully we can all feel the love. So hug somebody today. It will release oxytocin and make you and yours feel good. Happy St. Valentine’s Day from the partners at PPG to Moms and their loved ones everywhere!