Different patterns of oxytocin, prolactin but not cortisol release during breastfeeding in women delivered by caesarean section or by the vaginal route

Early Hum Dev. 1996 Jul 5;45(1-2):103-18. doi: 10.1016/0378-3782(96)01725-2.


The aim of this study was to find out whether the hormonal patterns of oxytocin, prolactin and cortisol differed between women delivered by emergency section or by the vaginal route and if these patterns show any relation to the duration of breastfeeding. Seventeen mothers with emergency section (C.S.) and 20 mothers with normal vaginal deliver (V.D.) were blood sampled in connection with breastfeeding on day 2 post partum for oxytocin, prolactin and cortisol. The number of oxytocin pulses as calculated with the PULSAR program occurring during the first 10 min of the breastfeeding session varied between 0 and 5. The V.D. mothers had significantly more pulses than the C.S. ones. Furthermore the C.S. women lacked a significant rise in prolactin levels at 20-30 min after the onset of breastfeeding. Logistic regression analysis revealed mode of delivery and infant's age at first breastfeed to be the most important, independent variables showing a relation to the release pattern of oxytocin on day 2. Correlations between oxytocin pulsatility on day 2 and the duration of the exclusive breastfeeding period in the V.D. group suggest that development of an early pulsatile oxytocin pattern is of importance for breastfeeding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cesarean Section*
  • Delivery, Obstetric*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Lactation / physiology*
  • Oxytocin / metabolism*
  • Periodicity
  • Pregnancy
  • Prolactin / metabolism*
  • Regression Analysis


  • Oxytocin
  • Prolactin
  • Hydrocortisone