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Syntocinon is NOT oxytocin.

Pitocin is NOT oxytocin.

Artificial oxytocin is NOT oxytocin.

Oxytocin is complicated, wild and comes in all forms, in so many layers, especially reactive depending on social factors and so on.

Just because you can recreate something based on molecular structure, that illicits a womb spasm, doesn’t mean you can call it oxytocin.

I posted about this on my instagram page today and saw roughly 120 comments flood the post within a few short hours. It has been something I have wanted to discuss for a very, very long time, after watching the discussion unfold with my clients & their care providers (in and out of hospital) – time and time again.

All I want is honesty & transparency – let me make this intention very clear. Without honesty & transparency, the principles behind informed consent become null & void. Without honesty & transparency, the very notion of decision making from a place of understanding, dissapears.

Please stop trying to compare a naturally occurring hormone that exists explicitly to inspire a number of radical, magical, purposeful actions (labour, childbirth, afterbirth, bonding, breastfeeding, connection, milk production, orgasms, defence, etc.) – all of which DO NOT come with the use of synto or pit, let alone in the event of a high stress event caused by said use of artificial oxytocin, which subsequently cause a possible fall out of a plethora of other issues.

Synto and pit aren’t iv lines of love. Or connection. Nor do they work collaboratively and in total harmony with other bits released from the body in physiological birth, when mom or the birthing person is beaming in optimal labour.

If bagged oxytocin was actually oxytocin, we would be pumping it into people/places/situations that are in desperate need of the ‘love’ hormone.

But it makes sense doesn’t it, to see the level of anger, pain, greed and apathy in this world if we are birthing babies without access to the fundamental processes & hormones that are born in a truly support, warm birth experience – why are we surprised to see the level of violence, disassociation, trauma and lack of ability to be compassionate when we are being sold the idea that a recreated product is as good as real love?

For those of us who have ‘had’ to use pit or syntocinon, have no fear, the

It is like the work they are doing to create synthetic uterus that mimics the womb space (outside of a body) and saying that it will be just as good as the real thing – are we forgetting what it means to be human? I am not kidding by the way, check out the science behind the bio-bag here. Quote on quote,

“It’s appealing to imagine a world where artificial wombs grow babies, eliminating the health risk of pregnancy.”

Oh yeah – so freaking appealing. So freaking risky. Let’s just stop living since our obsession with avoiding death and mitigating risk trumps what it means to be human.

Rhea Dempsey writes,

“Oxytocin is also involved in birth, breastfeeding and the promotion of maternal behaviours. Oxytocin initiates the birth process, and then pulses of oxytocin continue to drive the intensifying contractions until the final surges release the baby. Multi-tasking oxytocin initiates and completes the birth process, while at the same time ensuring that the mother and baby are suffused with love hormones creating the love bomb bonding effect.

Well at least that is the evolutionary design; contemporary birthing practice is another story.

Where’s the love bomb? Birthing without the love hormones.

An unintended consequence of our current birth culture is that many births do not end up relying on either the baby’s or the mother’s oxytocin input. Ideally in birth, the baby and mother share a connected hormonal dance of readiness and response. The baby triggers the birth, initiating its own birth timing: the mother responds, and their birth dance, choreographed by oxytocin begins.

In Australia, if we add together the births that use synthetic oxytocin to artificially kick-start them (induction, 28%) or get the hurry-up with synthetic oxytocin (augmentation, 19%) and the babies delivered by ‘elective’ caesarean with no labour, therefore no oxytocin at all (20%), then we have 67% of babies definitely not calling the shots on the timing of their births, or receiving the full flush of love bonding oxytocin.

Added to this is the 13% of emergency caesarean births and the huge number of vaginal births in which the final oxytocin surge or ‘love bombing’ in third stage is overridden by an injection of synthetic oxytocin. These intervention rates mean we have a majority of births occurring with neither baby nor mother fully following their own instinctive rhythms or being exposed to the full blast of our evolutionarily programmed love and bonding hormones.

Does this mean anything? Does this mean anything for the baby, that from the start of its life it is not in rhythm with itself? Does it mean anything that the mother and baby are not sharing the hormonal cocktail of normal physiological birth? Does it mean anything that at a societal level so many births occur without any love hormones, let alone the full ‘love bomb’ hormonal cocktail?

Does it matter that in such high numbers of births natural oxytocin is replaced by synthetic oxytocin (which, while able to drive contractions, doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier and therefore doesn’t initiate bonding behaviors)? Does it matter that in so many births medical pain relief options, pethidine and epidural anesthesia, replace oxytocin, natural endorphins and intense human support? That synthetic oxytocin delivers the placenta, replacing the surge of natural oxytocin that facilitates bonding and loving connections?

Well, social anthropologists, physiology researchers and neurobiologists say it means a lot. And so do many of the mothers who have unwittingly ended up with one of these ‘no love hormone’ births. Much of the new discipline of neurobiology takes as its basic premise the importance of our species’ need for social connectedness and empathy (both underpinned by oxytocin), in other words—love. They don’t specifically look at what happens during birth, but they do look at the earliest interactions of babies with their carers, generally mothers. They take as their starting point this early infant period and the absolute need for the human infant to be securely attached to nurturing caregivers for its ongoing physical, mental and relational ‘thriving’. They know that the quality of our early interactions and nurturing (or not) affect our biology.

So if, in our era of highly interventionist births, we so regularly interfere with the physiological, biological basis of the capacity for early bonded interactions in both the mother and the baby … what might be the implications?

A number of birth writers and researchers, including Michel Odent, are pondering these implications. He suggests that oxytocin mediates the central capacity to love—to love self, to love others, to love the environment. He also suggests, based on current research, that ‘after 3 or 4 generations of highly technological childbirth, it seems our human oxytocin system is weakening’. Odent poses this as an ‘unprecedented turning point in the history of mankind’.”

Another wonderful follower of mine Sera Smitten added,

“👏👏👏👏 Exactly this! I hate when doctors say it’s the same thing your body makes. Even on the bottle it is labeled oxytocin, which irritates me. think we’re going to look back on the unnecessary use of syntocinon one day and say why the hell did we do that to millions of women and babies –  I hope that day isn’t too far off. It has its place and barriers to obtaining it kill women – but to be routinely giving it to nearly every single woman or birthing person without explaining anything about it is not excusable. It’s contributing to a lot that is not right in the word.”

Did you know that hospitals are telling staff now not to call synto or pit by their names OR by the name of artificial oxytocin? They’re being told to say it’s oxytocin. Why? Because consumers are less scared if you say ‘oh it’s oxytocin! It’s exactly what your body makes but you aren’t making any of it right now, so we can help you!’ People know what artificial oxytocin is now (especially after Ricki Lake’s movie) and they’re literally changing the language to make you believe it’s the same thing but it is not. It is not.

‘Love’ – ‘affection’ – ‘connection’ – you can pump me full of ecstasy, is it the same thing as the real thing? NO.

Furthermore, STOP telling people that the contractions/spasms from synto or pit and the the expansions from self-initiated labour are the same – THEY ARE NOT.

Not for baby.
Not for your body.
Not for you.
Completely different feelings, experiences & outcomes.

Anyone who has experienced contractions for an inducted or augmented labour with pit or syntocinon (and especially those who have experienced both spontaneous + self-initiated surges VS artificial) can attest to the fact that the unrelenting nature of those contractions, teamed with a sharpness and edge that feels more like your muscles spasming (like leg lock when your magnesium is low). Managing these, coping with them, and assuming they aren’t stressful to the mother/birthing person or baby is completely deluded.

Call a spade, a spade – will ya? It’s not hard. Along with the 373938 other illusions we are sold through the language that is used, I’m not fucking buying any of it.

On my original post, Jane Hardwicke Collins said,

“And… it continues with the ‘We’ll just help the placenta out with this injection of syntocinon so you don’t bleed to death.’ threat. I want to see the study that investigates the connection between ‘day 3 blues’ and controlled third stage ( intramuscular injection of syntocinon to contract the womb, followed by a shear the placenta off from the wall of the womb, and then controlled cord traction to pull the placenta out). Could it be that the biofeedback the synthetic ‘hormone’ creates is a message to the mother’s system that ‘I don’t need to make more oxytocin now because there’s enough in me now’, which in turn gets metabolised, so there is no available endogenous (made by the mother’s body) oxytocin and then boom – she feels that – flat, unhappy etc etc.? As always if it’s necessary, it’s necessary, if it’s not necessary, it’s unnecessary. It is the unnecessary that messes with the basic mammalian birth process, which creates an onslaught of often unsubtle effects and the reinforcement that your body is faulty. We have much work to do to reclaim birth.”

Think she is onto something. What are your thoughts?

Angela Gallo is a Melbourne Doula, Birth Photographer, philanthropist, educator, advocate and ambassador in the birth world. You can find out more about her or her work by visiting her Instagram page, her Facebook page or by browsing this website. 

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