Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Oxytocin - Topic Overview

Oxytocin is a hormone released from the pituitary gland camera.gif 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.

After 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.

1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 12, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

Woman smiling as she reads pregnancy test
Slideshow
pregnant woman with salad
Quiz
 
pregnancy am i pregnant
Article
calendar and baby buggy
Tool
 

slideshow fetal development
Slideshow
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
Article
 
What Causes Bipolar
Video
Woman trying on dress in store
Slideshow
 

pregnant woman
Article
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
Video
 
healthtool pregnancy calendar
Tool
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy
Video