Mamahood & Me

The hormonal orchestra

The Hormonal Birthing Orchestra


Hormones released into the blood stream by the endocrine system are the messengers that allow our organs and cells to communicate with each other - here's what your hormones are orchestrating during labour.

When your baby is ready he or she will secrete a cortico-releasing hormone which sends a signal to the placenta.

On receiving this signal the hormones oestrogen and cortisol are released to help your baby’s lungs mature.

More oestrogen sends a signal for more oxytocin receptor sites to be created in the uterine muscle.

Oxytocin causes the rhythmic uterine contractions of labour.

Increased oestrogen promotes prostaglandin hormone like substances that soften the cervix.

Your ovaries will secrete relaxin, a hormone that relaxes the ligaments in the pelvis that softens and widens the pelvis.

The placenta begins making connexin, a hormone that helps the uterus contract in an efficient, coordinated way.

Two other important hormones are released the love hormone oxytocin, and prolactin – the mothering hormone. 

The flight or fight hormones collectively known as catecholamines activate what's known as the fetal rejection reflex, after several strong contractions the baby is born.

Endorphins too are released by both mother and baby. The obstetrician Michel Odent says that these endorphins acting as opiates induce the state of dependency to support a the feelings of a deep attachment.

Look after your endocrine system with this smoothie full of good protein &fats along with minerals and vitamins to support your hormones  


1 tablespoon shelled hemp seeds

1 tablespoon oat flakes

good pinch of dulse flakes

1 mango, peeled, stoned and chopped

½ avocado, 

handful spinach

good pinch Himalayan pink salt

Soak the hemp seeds, oat & dulse flakes in 150ml water overnight.

Blend all the ingredients together adding more water if necessary to make a creamy smoothie

For a long time women in labour were not allowed to eat because of the worry a woman may end up having a caesarean birth and a general anaesthetic would have to be administered. When under general anaesthetic, there is a small risk that food from the stomach might be regurgitated and inhaled into your lungs. However modern anaesthetic practice means the risk of this happening is extremely low, also most caesareans are not carried out under general anaesthetic nowadays,  the majority are performed under an epidural or spinal injection. So unless you are a high risk pregnancy and have to be very carefully monitored food and fluids are now encouraged.