Welcome to the Best of Birthful. Creator and host Adriana Lozada curated and edited each selection in this playlist of the show’s most popular episodes. It’s a tailored introduction to the expansive catalog she amassed over the first five years of Birthful’s 300+ shows.
Family physician Dr. Sarah Buckley shares everything we know about the hormones that unleash your labor, get you through it, and help you establish breastfeeding and bonding with your baby, as well as how to support those hormones for a healthy birth experience.
What we talked about:
- How is birth designed to unfold?
- Does your baby really start labor?
- How can you help your hormones flow?
- How your hormones protect your baby during birth
- Is the initiation of lactation still part of the birth?
- Stress: the hormone buster!
- Your hormones during an induction
- The difference between your body’s oxytocin and synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin)
- Helping your hormones flow when interventions are necessary
- Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing report, by Sarah for National Partnership for Women & Families
- Pain in Labour: Your hormones are your helpers, by Sarah Buckley
- The Role of Hormones in Childbirth, from Childbirth Connection
- Sarah Buckley’s “Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing: Evidence and Implications for Women, Babies, and Maternity Care” – A Review for Birth Educators and Doulas, by Penny Simkin
- Orgasmic Birth and the shorter adaptation Organic Birth: Birth is Natural!, spear-headed by Debra Pascali-Bonaro.
- Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: A Doctor’s Guide to Natural Childbirth and Gentle Early Parenting Choices, Sarah’s book
Related Birthful episodes:
- The Baby’s Birth Experience, with Karen Strange
- Pleasure in Birth, with Debra Pascali-Bonaro
- Your Baby, The Mammal (Part 1), with Diane Wiessinger
- Hormones After Birth, Dr. Jolene Brighten
[Best of Birthful] Understanding Your Birth Hormones
Adriana Lozada: Hey, mighty one, with nearly 300 Birthful episodes in over five years, it may be hard to know where to begin listening to the show. To make it easier, we’ve put together The Best of Birthful Series, which showcases some of our favorite or most relevant episodes. This is one of those. If you enjoy what you hear, make sure you subscribe. It’s free and that way you won’t miss a thing. Enjoy.
Lozada: Hello, mighty parents and parents to be. I’m with the fabulous Dr. Sarah Buckley and Sarah is a General Practitioner and Family Physician, as well as an author of the bestselling book, Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering. Her work critiques pregnancy, birth, and parenting from the widest possible perspectives, including the scientific, anthropological, psychological and the experiential. Sarah, welcome.
Dr. Sarah Buckley:
Thanks, Adriana. It’s lovely to be here.
Lozada: The report that you published, I was looking through it and it is an impressive piece of work. There is so much in there and so vital for people to know. So first I wanted to thank you for doing all that work because I know it’s a lot of work .
Buckley: It’s a lot of work, you’re right. Yes.
Lozada: And then can you tell us, sort of summarize for us what makes birth hormones so important?
Buckley: So yeah, my interest in hormonal physiology or the hormones of labor and birth, we could call it, really started with my own experiences giving birth. I went through medical school and I attended births in hospital. My own experience of giving birth was quite different to what I’ve learned at medical school or in my obstetric training. So I was curious about that. That, really, what is it? How do you explain this ecstatic experiences that I have, overwhelmingly positive and the enormous love and protectiveness that I felt for my baby, the moment I saw my first baby in particular? I’d planned to have her in a separate room and borrowed a bassinet from the neighbor. And once I laid eyes on her, once she’d been born, I didn’t want her more than a meter away from me.
Buckley: And, part of my interest has really been more what explains that? How did that happen? That wasn’t an intellectual process. It wasn’t something I decided, it was really something very physical that happened to me in that process. And what I discovered through looking at the hormonal physiology over well, about 13 years now, but it’s really answering that question. How is birth designed to happen? And what is meant to happen in evolutionary or biological, or we could say physiological sense for mothers and babies? And what I discovered is that, the whole system of the mammalian birth, we’re mammals, we have memory glands, if you could see me, I’d be clutching my breath right now to illustrate that point. We have memory glands, we cycle our young and like all other mammals, it’s imperative that not just birth is safe, but that also breastfeeding is successful, a lactation.
Buckley: And that mother-baby attachment is successful. Because if you think about all of our fore mothers giving birth in the wild, there weren’t any breast milk substitutes. If breastfeeding wasn’t successful, the babies wouldn’t survive. And similarly, if the mother wasn’t rewarded and motivated to give that dedicated care, that every mammalian mother gives to her newborn and human mothers, particularly because we had such a long period of dependence with our babies, then our babies wouldn’t survive. If we didn’t respond to our babies cry, we didn’t pick them up, if we left them to cry, if we put them somewhere else to sleep, they wouldn’t survive. So we have these inbuilt innate systems of care-taking, of lactation that actually related to, as I discovered through this work that are intrinsically related and switched on by the hormonal physiology of childbirth.
Buckley: So the report’s called, The Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing. Because I’m talking not just about birth, but also about breastfeeding and attachment. And, from an evolutionary or mother nature’s perspective, or if you want to call it, divine design, breastfeeding and attachment are just as important as surviving birth. So there’s a lot of investment in these things and the hormones that optimize survival at birth, also optimize breastfeeding and attachment. And by the same token, if we mess up, if we disrupt those hormones of labor and birth, we can also disrupt breastfeeding and attachment. And the overall, another overall message really is that all of these hormones we’re talking about have very positive effects on our brain and our psyche. They switch on instinctive, mothering behaviors, but they also activate their reward centers.
Buckley: So from that perspective, birth is really designed to be a rewarding and pleasurable experience that the mother comes out of it feeling really attached and rewarded for care-taking her babies. And maybe even saying, “That was right. I want to do this again.” And, that means that we have lots of babies. And again, that contributes to the survival of our species. So the report has a lot of evolutionary backgrounds, a lot of physiology and a lot of common sense from my perspective.
Lozada: Yeah. And it makes sense. So if we take this hormones and break it down to the different parts of birth, say, if we’re looking at late pregnancy, how did these hormones help you prepare and how do they affect the birth that is coming?
Buckley: Yeah, great questions. So in the lead up to labor, the hormone systems, they’re getting prepared for this enormous transition of labor and birth. And also for, as I mentioned, breastfeeding and attachment. So the systems are getting, what we say up regulated, like getting bought on board, you could say bought online. And part of that involves increases for most of the hormones and the hormone itself. That particularly shifts in the hormone receptors. I’m just going to go back a step and explain what I mean by that. So a hormone, technically is a substance that’s produced in one part of the body and it has effects in another part of the body. And the way it has its effects is, it binds with what’s called a hormone receptor. And they’re specific to that hormone, it’s a bit like a key going into a lock. It’s a specific key for a specific lock.
Buckley: And when the hormone binds with that receptor, it sends a chemical message into the cell. For example, people who are listening may have heard of the hormone oxytocin, which causes a rhythmic contractions of labor. So that’s released from the brain and it travels through the body. It goes to the woman’s uterus, the laboring woman’s uterus. It finds those receptors on the outside of the endo or the myometrial cell, the uterine muscle cells, it fits into that lock, turns the key, the message goes into the cell sign, “Contract.” Now the amount of hormones increases as we said, even before labor begins, but importantly, the number of receptors increases, receptive numbers can go up and down just like hormone numbers can go up and down.
Buckley: So the body basically prepares itself to be optimally ready, at the most sensitive, possible, situation at the onset of labor and birth, which means not just the uterus being sensitive, which means from what we’ve discussed, a lot of oxytocin receptors, but also the brain, because that’s where all this attachment is going to be happening. And the hormones that we’re talking about also have effects within the brain. For example, oxytocin, we just discussed, has psycho-emotional effects. It actually helps us to feel calm, connected. It’s been called, “The hormone of love.” You’ve might’ve heard of that?
Buckley: And it also has intrinsic pain relieving effects. So it’s very useful. It makes sense that the body would have all these things ready to go at the physiologic onset of labor and the other hormones it’s similar. So, prolactin, which is the major hormone of breast milk synthesis, or so a hormone of bonding and attachment for the baby. There’s this, of course, this critical transition to life outside the womb, that babies start, got to start to begin doing things it’s never done before. It’s of course the baby is going to have all those systems, ready to go at the onset of labor. And particularly for the baby, the hormones, adrenaline, noradrenaline, or epinephrine norepinephrine as we call them in the report.
Buckley: So what happens is, as the baby goes through labor, the epinephrine norepinephrine levels increased. And towards the end they get what’s called a catecholamine surge. That’s the collective name for these hormones. And that helps to protect them from the long, strong, close together contractions of labor. And it also prepares their bodies for this enormous transition and it optimizes the lung function. Because, of course the first thing that baby has to do when they’re born is breathe. So it clears the fluid out of the lungs. It dilates up the airways and increases the lungs effective, which is a lung lubricant and other effects. And listeners may know that sometimes babies born by cesareans had specific difficulties in making that transition and particularly their difficulties with the breathing system. Babies are several times more likely to require help with breathing after a Cesarean, because they haven’t had not only the catecholamine surge of late labor, but they haven’t had that opportunity to really optimize and sensitize their system to those hormones beforehand.
Lozada: As baby’s coming out through the birth canal. Does that help balance out, that sometimes just by being squeezed and just the tight fit, the oxygen might be, if the cord is getting squeezed, that the oxygen levels might be a bit low. And does that help the baby’s sort of be okay with that?
Buckley: Yeah. Good question, Adriana, because what happens, it’s not just as the baby comes out to be born, as you say, that’s an oxygen stress for the baby. But all the time during labor, the mother’s uterus is squeezing. And of course the organ that’s most vulnerable that we protect the most is the brain. So there’s a lot of neuroprotective effects of these hormones and of other systems that help the baby to survive and to thrive during those low oxygen levels. If we, as adults had such low oxygen levels as babies, we wouldn’t survive, but babies had these amazing miraculous adaptations. So when the baby has this catecholamine surge, the blood supply is shifted preferentially to the brain and the heart, which is the two most vital organs and shifted away from the non-essential organs. So there’s all these neuroprotective factors. This whole thing’s designed to work and really have the baby survive and thrive and make this transition successfully.
Lozada: We often hear that it’s baby that triggers the onset of labor to say, “I am ready to be born. Let’s get this process started.” Sort of like, “I am cooked and ready and kind of want to come out.” What truth is that? What truth is there to that hormonally?
Buckley: So the first thing to say is, if I could tell you what triggered the onset of human labor, I would get a Nobel prize because we actually don’t know, which is kind of ironic when we meddling with it to such a large extent. So as far as we know, yes, it is the baby that triggers the onset of labor. Although exactly what the trigger is, is there one trigger? Is it several things that come together to trigger the onset of human labor? We don’t really know that. But yes, there’s all these preparations happening in the baby. And it’s basically, there’s signals.
Buckley: So the placenta is, you could say the bridge, a conduit between mother and baby, and there’s common hormonal processes happening, there’s metabolism and production of hormones within the placenta. So by the placenta, the mother and the baby systems are coordinating, are passing signals back and forth around that readiness, as the baby’s getting ready. So it is, we think it is the baby that signals it, but really our understanding is really still very basic. And we don’t understand what it is that actually triggers what the final trigger is that flips women into labor. So,
Lozada: So in that same vein, talk to us a little bit and thank you for… It’s still the baby, but we don’t know exactly what or how. But, it is the baby. Babies, [crosstalk 00:11:15].
Buckley: Yeah, you’re right…
Lozada: How, tying to that, let’s talk about inductions because there’s so many inductions happening and they’re on the rise. And how does that affect that hormonal flow, aside from just increasing the chance of prematurity, because you don’t know exactly how ready baby is to be born?
Buckley: Well, the first, the most scientific answer to your question, Adriana, is we don’t know because really we haven’t studied these processes exactly. In induction, we haven’t studied these processes much at all. And as I said, that’s ironic given the increasing and really very high levels of induction, that from a hormonal physiology perspective, it really is a very major intervention. So all of these things we’ve just talked about. So the mother’s readiness, those receptors we’re talking about. So it really is a major disruption to hormonal physiology. And we haven’t begun to look at it, I mentioned the induction studies, all the studies that don’t even measure breastfeeding as an outcome, which again, is ironic when we know how important it is. And as far as attachment and bonding goes well, there’s almost no research on that at all.
Buckley: And, I included that in the report because I think it’s really important. It’s mother nature’s best shot at survival by making mothers and babies fall in love with each other and be glued to each other. But I also believe that from the research that I did, and I don’t have direct evidence for this, is that I think that when the attachment systems are optimized and triggered at birth, it has a long-term effect and the mother will ongoingly find her baby rewarding, because, of course, attachment isn’t just about what happens on the first day, but it has to happen for the period of dependency among mammals.
Buckley: So, it has to be there, rewarding the mother for contact with her baby. It’s like the first impressions count and mother nature designs this ideal situation for what, [inaudible 00:13:08], call, “The beginning of a great love affair.” And when we get that and structured it within the brain, it’s happening within the brain, it’s an emotional thing. It’s on the emotional part of the brain, the limbic system. And when that’s put into place, then, that’s a factor for species survival.
Lozada: So, Sarah, how can a laboring person help their hormones flow and really support this process?
Buckley: Well, the thing is, it’s a bit like sex really, and these hormones are actually almost exactly the same hormones involved with making a baby. So in sex, it’s not so much about doing things. It’s more about not doing things. It’s about setting up a good situation and not being disturbed. If you want to have an orgasm, you don’t have to invite lots of people into the room, right? So similarly, the processes of labor and birth and that the peaks of the hormones that happen with the birth are actually this parallel to the peaks of hormones that happen with orgasm and where the woman actually experiences, feels like she’s having an orgasm, which is certainly possible, women do report that, that even if it doesn’t feel like you’re having an orgasm, the peaks of hormones are very similar to orgasm.
Buckley: So, the sort of conditions that we need to have an orgasm and to have physiologic spontaneous birth, are really very similar. So, I say that the core requirements for birth among all mammals, is that the laboring female feels private, safe, and unobserved. So it’s really about not doing things. It’s about preparing a situation and having the people there that support you, that aren’t going to interfere, that you feel safe with, feeling safe at this very primal level, it’s limbic system level, is part of the brain. And, like any mammal giving birth. And the other point after the birth, sometimes there’s, I haven’t talked about it much here, but in the report and in my other work, I talk a lot about the hour after birth. What I say is, at birth, the mother graduates as a mother and the hour after birth is a postgraduate education.
Buckley: So you have all these extreme levels of birth hormones that are designed to have you fall in love with your baby. So in this absolutely perfect state to fall in love with your baby and simulate your baby as well. So that precious hour after birth, being skin-to-skin, eye-to-eye, no interruption. And that hour after birth is also really critical. And I just want to add something else in there because, that’s an ideal and, I’d say 90% of women, that could happen for, because our physiology works if we get out of the way, but sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Sometimes there really is a need for some help, sometimes a pre labor Cesarean is a safest thing for mothers and babies. So what we say in the report, is the more physiology you can add, how can you add more physiology?
Buckley: And we’ll just share an anecdote about that. It was a mother who had two previous natural births, physiologic births and one this baby, she needed a pre labor Cesarean. And so, she said, “When I got my baby, after the birth, my baby felt really different to my other babies. It was in a different physiologic state.” She said, “My instinct was to just hold my baby skin-to-skin.” And she said, “After three days, I was skin-to-skin with my baby and my baby felt like all my other babies did.” So the other take home message out of that, is that these processes of labor and birth are very extremely efficient, through those hours or maybe very short duration of labor and birth, all of these things get switched on and it just works. But, if you miss that, you can catch up, but it’s not as effective. It’s not as an efficient process because you’re not in that peak readiness for the whole processes. So, skin-to-skin, skin-to-skin, skin-to-skin is my guideline, when you miss out on these hormones.
Lozada: And I really appreciate you saying that because, if, for some reason you can’t have a completely cascade flow of all these hormones and the intertwined dance at the moment of birth and right after, that doesn’t mean game’s over. That you can, but it does require a different level of mindfulness to have that happen. This next question is a completely selfish question because it’s something that’s been, something I’ve wondered a lot about and have heard different things throughout my experience as a doula, and all the other things that I do maternity related. And it’s comparing oxytocin with Pitocin. So, the synthetic oxytocin and Pitocin and its effects on a mom’s body and how those compare.
Lozada: Because I have her doctors say, “They’re exactly the same. They’re identical. They do the same thing.” But when a mom, I can see the difference when there’s a labor with Pitocin, we call it here. Things are a lot less manageable and they feel a lot more intense. And even in situations where they’ve had part of labor with it and then part of labor without it, and they afterwards do compare it to me and say, “Those did not feel the same. One, I could manage, the other, I couldn’t.” So, but that is anecdotal. I’d love to know you’re take on it.
Buckley: Basically, we’ve got to look at the basic physiology versus pharmacology because when we release oxytocin and labor release it from the brain, as I described, it goes through the body and binds with the receptors and causes these rhythmic uterine contractions. But at the same time it’s released within the brain. Problem with synthetic, well, one of the problems with synthetic oxytocin, Pitocin, is that we inject it into the body and it can’t cross insignificant amounts of the blood brain barrier. So it doesn’t have those central effects. Other differences is that the oxytocin that we release ourselves is released in pulses. So what happens is, I’m just going to explain a bit of physiology here.
Buckley: So our bodies are really smart. So what we do is we protect ourselves from overexposure to hormonal systems. So if we are exposed to constant high levels of hormones, our body decreases its sensitivity by decreasing receptor numbers, it’s called receptor desensitization. And that happens in labor and birth as well. And the normal release of oxytocin from the brain and pulses make… If I was standing in front of you, I’d be sort of making waves with my hand, because what that means is that….
Lozada: I can feel them reaching me.
Buckley: The mother’s uterus is being exposed to oxytocin and a big peak, and then it comes down again and a big peak and it comes down again. And it’s also comes down quickly because her placenta is making a lot of enzyme to break it down. So, that exposure of the woman’s uterus to natural oxytocin is episodic. Up and down and pulses. However, when we give synthetic oxytocin, we give it in this constant dose and this high constant levels trigger desensitization, receptor desensitization, we know that happens in humans. Women’s uterus has become less responsive to it. And we know, for example, if you’ve had an exposure to synthetic oxytocin in labor, your chance of bleeding after birth is high, because that’s an oxytocin and you think that gives you effective contractions to reduce the chance of bleeding. So receptor desensitization happens with synthetic oxytocin, but it doesn’t happen with natural oxytocin.
Buckley: Oxytocin levels increase towards the end of labor, there’s more triggering of the brain system. So it’s a positive feedback system that has, as contractions get stronger, they get stronger. I describe labor a bit like a snowball effect. It gets bigger and bigger and bigger through these positive feedback loops. So it can actually increase the release of central oxytocin. And as far as we know, synthetic oxytocin, doesn’t do that. Although increasing straight, for contractions might do that. So there’s many ways in which it’s not, has quite different effects on the body, on the body of the mother and the baby. The other problem is that we talked about the lead up to the onset of labor and the mother’s receptor numbers becoming higher. So of course, what happens at the physiologic onset of labor, she starts off the receptor numbers are sensitive with a little bit of oxytocin.
Buckley: She gets more and more, and labor gets stronger and stronger. But, when a woman’s given this drug in labor, particularly for induction, we don’t know how many receptors she’s got. And some women build up for induction and they get this little drizzle of synthetic oxytocin. And everything happens because they’ve got these large number of receptors, they probably would have gone into labor tomorrow. And some women, you can pull bucket loads in and nothing happens because they’re not ready for it, their receptors aren’t there. And they probably would’ve naturally gone into labor in a week, or two weeks, who knows? We don’t know that. We can’t predict the onset of labor in women. So, many, many differences…
Lozada: That would be another Nobel prize.
Buckley: That way, it would.
Lozada: So would you say that natural oxytocin acts as both as a hormone and neurotransmitter, whereas the Pitocin just acts as a hormone and even might block those receptors?
Buckley: Yeah. That’s exactly it. And we don’t know what happens to the receptors in the breast, for example. And what you’re saying, acts as a neurotransmitter. Specifically, it’s actually called a neuromodulator because, it doesn’t just have effects there and then on the brain, it also has ongoing effects. It actually reorganizes some of the neurohormonal systems. One example of that is from a study in women, they did this study in women, and they checked their stress, their susceptibility to stress at six months, according to whether, they’d ever breastfed, even just for a short time or whether they’d never breastfed. And the women that had ever breastfed had lower responses to stress at six months than women who had never breastfed. And that really fits in with their exposure to oxytocin with breastfeeding, has actually shifted or shaped, you could say, their neuro hormones, their brain responses to stress, to get that positive six months later. Just, get an ongoing benefit of reduced stress susceptibility.
Lozada: It’s so fascinating to me.
Buckley: It’s absolutely fascinating.
Lozada: Obviously fascinating to you, yes. And I’m so glad you mentioned, stress, because stress can be, it’s like the crux of it all, at all stages of the process.
Buckley: Yes, that’s exactly right. As I said before, if we were taking women’s… If we’re taking physiology and real physiology into account, we would provide the lowest stress situation for laboring women. And if you think about how traditional systems of maternity care, look after women culturally, is they really look after women’s emotional wellbeing in labor. And I think that’s the benefits of doulas. If we look after women’s emotional wellbeing, reduce their stress system, then all these hormones will flow much more easily, because stress turns labor down basically by a number of hormonal mechanisms.
Lozada: Now we need to also redesign all these labor rooms then.
Buckley: Yes. Well, the simple thing that you can do as a laboring woman, as a birthing woman, is bring a doula. Have your own stress reducing system, right there next to you. Because, having a doula does decrease your chance of all these interventions, because your hormones flow, that would be my hormonal physiology explanation of that. And taking a doula into hospital with you. When you go into hospital, it’s not really your space, it’s an unfamiliar space for you, and it can be kind of hard to make it your own. Whereas the doulas are much more familiar with that space and, they’ll open the windows and put out your bean bags and, just help you to really make it your own.
Buckley: And that’s really important too, because again, we’re talking about the limbic system, that perimeter part of the brain that’s really tuned into sights and smells. Smells are really important. So taking in familiar smells, your pillow, you can bury your head into. All those sorts of things are really helpful in labor and birth and, obviously having for many people. So yeah, we do need to redesign labor and birth, definitely. And we need to think about hormonal physiology. And in the meantime, take your doula.
Lozada: Yes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a room and just gone in and, first thing hit… Even at a client’s house, I’ll arrive and I’ll turn down the lights or turn off the lights. And the response is, “Oh, that’s so much better.”
Lozada: And it seems so simple, but it’s being aware. Being aware of, “Let’s make this more cozy for you.”
Buckley: Yes, that’s right. And, as we talked about, before in a labor and birth, the processes hormonally are very similar to making a baby. So what sort of conditions you need to have a baby and make a baby? As you say, dim lighting, a few words, no numbers, no shopping lists. There’s one more thing I want to mention about that, that again, you probably will bring bells with you and with some of the listeners, is that oxytocin, what we discovered from animal studies can be transmitted pheromonally. What that means is, is a hormone transmitted from one individual to another. And it’s actually a rat study where they’ve got two rats in a cage and they injected one with synthetic oxytocin into the brain, because remember in, [inaudible 00:25:40], that entered the body, doesn’t give those central pain relieving effects.
Buckley: And then they could measure this rat and say, “Yes, it did have that pain relieving effect.” But then they measured its cage mate, who wasn’t administered synthetic oxytocin. The cage mate also had those pain relieving effects. And they figured out that it’s transmitted pheromonally, through this organ in the nose called the vomeronasal organ. And, in labor and birth, that’s really true, if you’re with a woman, if you’re a doula or midwife, it’s probably explains why you do what you do. And I’m not saying that the processes of labor and birth are necessarily pain-free, or calm and connecting. You don’t necessarily feel fat. It’s a very incredibly intense experience, but it’s a bit like what I was describing for the baby. It’s an intense, inevitably an intense experience for the baby. Inevitably, there’s going to be strains to physiology, but there’s this hormonal system that’s designed to unfold that, to protect that, to optimize outcomes in the phase of that.
Buckley: And, the stresses of labor and birth and these hormonal elevations are essential for the next stage to happen. As we’ve talked about that the baby does have this catecholamine surge too. And at that transition to life outside the womb, that the mother does have this hormone peaks. So, that attachment is successful. And, the other hormone, we haven’t talked about much, that is in the report is cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Cortisol is also a hormone involved in romantic attachment. When I read that, I thought about when I was a teenager, I used to read those romantic fiction. I recall Mills & Boon at the time of, “Oh, that’s it.” That always get the men and the woman in this stressful situation. And then they fall in love out of it. And that’s what happens in labor and birth, that stress of labor and birth and that the hormones and the cortisol helps mothers and babies to fall in love. And they’ve measured that. They’ve measured that the more cortisol a new mother has, the more attracted she is to her baby scent.
Lozada: That one, I hadn’t heard. Very good. Taking notes and I’m going like this, “Ah, this I didn’t know. This, I didn’t know. This, I didn’t know.” Sarah, thank you so much for all that information and being so generous with your time. We can keep talking for hours and hours. But, we’ll have people go and take a look at the study, at the report, instead. Look through that.
Buckley: Yeah. Good idea. Perfect.
Lozada: Yeah. If, they wanted to continue following what you do and get in touch. How can they do that?
Buckley: Oh yes. They go to my website, sarahbuckley.com and look on the subscribe thing. And if you subscribe, you can subscribe as a birth professional, there’s also a few sign up for parents and you can certainly do both.
Lozada: Fantastic. We’ll be looking forward to it. Thanks again.
Buckley: My pleasure.
Lozada: You’ve been listening to a Best of Birthful episode, and there are many more where this came from. Look for episodes with the words, Best of Birthful in the title, to continue your deep dive, to inform your intuition. You can find that in the show notes for this episode at Birthful.com. And you can also connect with us directly on Instagram, we’re @birthfulpodcast. Birthful is created by me, Adriana Lozada and is a production of LWC Studios. The show senior producer is Paulina Velasco. Jen Chen is executive editor. Cedric Wilson is our lead producer. Kojin Tashiro is our associate sound designer. Alie Kilts contributed to the Best of Birthful series. Thank you for listening to and sharing Birthful. Be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Good Pods, Amazon Music, Spotify, and everywhere you listen. And come back for more ways to inform your intuition.
Lozada, Adriana, host. “Best of Birthful: Understanding Your Birth Hormones” Birthful, LWC Studios, December 29, 2021. Birthful.com.
About Dr. Sarah Buckley
Sarah J. Buckley is a New Zealand-trained GP/family physician with qualifications in GP-obstetrics and family planning.
Dr. Buckley’s work critiques current practices in pregnancy, birth, and parenting from the widest possible perspectives, including scientific, anthropological, cross-cultural, psychological, and personal. Sarah has been sharing her unique blend of science and wisdom with parents and birth professionals internationally since 2005.
Her bestselling book Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: A Doctor’s Guide to Natural Childbirth and Gentle Early Parenting Choices, published by Celestial Arts/Penguin Random House (U.S., 2009), builds on her acclaimed first edition, published in Australia as Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: The Wisdom and Science of Gentle Choices in Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting (One Moon Press, Brisbane, 2005).
Dr. Buckley has an ongoing interest in the hormones of labour and birth, which culminated in her groundbreaking report Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing, published in January 2015.
Sarah encourages us to be fully informed in our decision-making; to listen to our hearts and our intuition; and to claim our rightful role as the real experts in our bodies and our children.
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