Oxytocin and the transformation of birth

Monday, November 8, 2021 - 1:15pm

Oxytocin is a major hormone of labour and birth. As well as facilitating the rhythmic contractions of labour in all mammals, oxytocin also acts within the maternal brain at this time, with calming, connecting and pain relieving effects. Oxytocin activates maternal behaviour in all mammals including by activating brain reward and pleasure centres through the oxytocin peaks of labour and birth. The oxytocin system in labour and birth can be disrupted by obstetric interventions. This presentation draws
from current knowledge, human and animal research, and biological understandings to discuss possible positive and negative impacts of synthetic oxytocin, epidurals, and caesareans on maternal and fetal oxytocin systems. Strategies to fill possible ‘hormonal gaps’ are also discussed.


Dr. Sarah Buckley, MB, ChB, Dip Obst, PhD candidate

Dr Sarah Buckley is trained as a GP/family physician with qualifications in GP-obstetrics. She has been writing and lecturing to childbirth professionals and parents since 1997 and is the author of the best-selling book Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering. Sarah has a special interest in the hormones of physiological labour and birth and the impacts of interventions. In 2015 she completed an extensive report on this topic, Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing, published with Childbirth Connection (US). She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland, researching oxytocin in labour and birth. She has co-authored several papers on oxytocin in labour, birth and breastfeeding. Sarah is also the mother of four children, all born at home and now in their teenage years and beyond. She lives on the semi-rural outskirts of Brisbane. For more, see www.sarahbuckley.com. Join us for her session "Oxytocin and the transformation of birth"