Happy Brain Chemicals: What Are They + How To Get More
Oxytocin is often released during positive physical interactions (e.g., with a partner, parent, sibling, or friend). The body and brain interpret social interactions and positive physical touch as a reward.
This happy hormone is also essential for managing healthy stress levels2 and is a critical natural aid during childbirth.
“Oxytocin is often called the ‘love hormone’ because it is released in response to social bonding and closeness, such as during childbirth, breastfeeding, and hugging,” Aleknavičius says. “Oxytocin acts on the brain to promote feelings of trust, empathy, and attachment, and it can also have physical effects.”
For example, when the baby’s body pushes against the cervix in childbirth, it stimulates nerve impulses that cause oxytocin to release3 into the bloodstream, therefore signifying to the uterus it’s time to begin contractions and, eventually, push.