Oxytocin - Topic Overview
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.
breast-feeding 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 breast-feeding or pumping.
Your body may not release oxytocin when you are anxious, embarrassed,
or distracted. You may need to breast-feed in a relaxing, quiet, familiar,
private place for let-down to occur.