Imprinting upon each other
The third stage of labor is a unique time when the mother and her baby create a powerful imprint upon each other. This is a very emotional and hormonal process which should not be interrupted, even with words. For the new mother, the third stage is a time of reaping the rewards of her labor. Mother Nature provides peak levels of oxytocin, the hormone of love, and endorphins, hormones of pleasure for both mother and baby. Skin-to-skin contact and the baby’s first attempts to breast feed further augment maternal oxytocin levels, strengthening the uterine contractions that will help the uterus to contract down and the placenta to separate. In this way, oxytocin acts to prevent hemorrhage, as well as to establish, in concert with the other hormones, the close bond that will ensure a mother’s care and protection, and thus her baby’s survival. When both mom and baby are undrugged and quiet, fully present and alert, we discover more about ourselves, and the sacred and biological origins of our capacity to love.