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Oxytocin No Longer the "Shy Hormone"

with Jasvir Singh

Thinking about oxytocin, once known as the shy hormone, has made a 360 degree turn. Michel Odent, a practitioner who introduced the concept of birthing pools and focuses on the long-term consequences of early experiences, writes that oxytocin is now showing up as the social hormone.


Odent claims that since the discovery of oxytocin a century ago by Henry Dale, we have been trying to understand its effects. Through the combination of various experiments and observations, oxytocin came to be known as the “shy hormone” (maybe before it became the "cuddle hormone"), because it resembled a shy person who does not appear in the presence of strangers or observers.


Couples would isolate themselves to make love, as if they knew the shy hormone would be released. Women would isolate themselves during breastfeeding and childbirth for the same reason. Women would protect the birthing experience from men as if they knew that oxytocin was shyer in a male than in a female environment.


However, this slowly changed, according to Odent. Not only have we forgotten that oxytocin is a shy hormone, but furthermore we are sending the opposite message. It is now encouraged to have coaches and support teams in birthing rooms; privacy is no longer a priority. We’ve reversed most of our ideas and are promoting a new generation of studies about oxytocin release.


This new generation of studies seems to make sense, though. We had to wait until the 1970s to discover that a newborn human baby needs its mother. . We’ve learned that the germs of the mother should be the first to colonize the baby’s body. Ad we know that mothering actually influences the sensitivity and distribution of oxytocin receptors in the baby's body.


You can read Odent’s entire article here: http://www.midirs.org/development/MIDIRSEssence.nsf/article/81B0FC4867DC184A8025768200528739?OpenDocument&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter


For more information on Michel Odent, visit www.michelodent.com