Oxytocin is a hormone released from the
pituitary gland in the brain.
During pregnancy, oxytocin causes labor contractions to begin. Oxytocin also is
released when a woman's breasts are stimulated by suckling or pumping, causing
milk to move from the ducts and out the tiny holes in the nipple (let-down
reflex). In the first few days after delivery, oxytocin also causes uterine
contractions that help shrink the uterus back to its prepregnancy size.
breastfeeding is established, your body may release
oxytocin when you hear a baby cry, think of your baby, or have sexual
intercourse. When this occurs, your breasts may leak milk whether or not you
are actively breastfeeding or pumping.
Your body may not release oxytocin when you are anxious, embarrassed,
or distracted. You may need to breastfeed in a relaxing, quiet, familiar,
private place for let-down to occur.
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