Hormones in Childbirth
In the female reproductive system, there is a delicate play between Estrogen and Progesterone. The yin and the yang in TCM of the reproductive system; Estrogen is the yin cooling aspect, and Progesterone is the yang warming aspect.
Both Progesterone and Estrogen are steroid hormones. Meaning they are made from cholesterol...there it is again. If your body doesn't have enough cholesterol, you cannot make steroid hormones (this includes Vitamin D, which is technically a steroid hormone).
Oxytocin - The Elvis of Childbirth
Now that we know a little bit about the biology of natural labor, and the beginning of how the hormones play off of each and other and work in the body, let's dig a little deeper.
I wanted to start off with oxytocin. Oxytocin is one of the key players in the birthing game. Without oxytocin, the uterus cannot contract, the cervix cannot efface or dilate, and natural birth does not occur.
Natural Biology of Labor
When we think of labor and delivery, nutritionally, many of us think of the snacks (or lack of snacks allowed) during the 24-ish hours of actual labor. But, let me tell you a secret....the real nutritional works begins about 8 weeks BEFORE labor. This is when you are building up your nutritional stores that will fuel the natural birth processes.
Most women are not aware of the role nutrients play in the process of labor. I want to spend the next several articles discussing the important role that nutrition plays in processes of labor.
I want to start, today, by talking about the natural biological processes of labor. By understanding HOW our body goes into labor and the natural biological changes that happen in the process, it will be easier to explain how nutrition plays a role in your natural birth goals.