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How Giving Birth Changes Your Brain

How Giving Birth Changes Your Brain


A woman’s uterus grows to over 500 times its normal size during pregnancy. But not all changes are visible. In fact, some of the biggest
changes happen in her brain. When a mother sees her
newborn for the first time, it’s love at first sight, literally. That’s because once she gives birth, core regions of her brain’s
reward network kick in. They signal the release
of feel-good hormones like dopamine and oxytocin into her blood, which immediately triggers
a strong connection of love and devotion to her newborn. In fact, studies show that recent mothers have similar levels of
oxytocin as romantic couples who are newly in love. And human moms aren’t alone here. Scientists discovered that rodents got a bigger kick of dopamine
from feeding their pups than from receiving injections of cocaine. What’s more, brain scans
reveal that a human mom has a similar experience when
she sees her infant smiling. But it’s a different story
when her baby is crying. Those cries activate a
network in the mom’s brain known as the emotion regulation network. It includes the prefrontal
and cingulate control systems, which help control her emotions. And that’s important since
it can be easy to lose your temper when you’re
running on very little sleep and are distressed by the baby’s cries. And while motherhood can be exhausting, new moms are actually
more alert than normal thanks to their brain’s salience network. Scientists think giving birth
activates this network to help a mother detect threats and
protect her infant from harm, especially in dangerous situations when that network can
help ramp up adrenaline. But on a daily basis, Mom needs to understand
her newborn’s needs. To accomplish that, she uses empathy, which comes from her
brain’s social network. It involves the insular and amygdala, which researchers found became more active when moms looked at photos of their babies in distress compared to neutral photos. But it’s not just the
mom’s brain that changes. Research shows that a dad’s
brain releases oxytocin when he interacts with his baby too. This is often accompanied by a surge of another hormone: prolactin. It’s often called the milk
hormone because it triggers the production of breast milk, but men can produce it too, and researchers have found that dads who frequently played with their babies had higher prolactin levels in their blood than fathers who didn’t. They were also more responsive
to their baby’s cries. So in the end, having a
child is a big change. Not just for your lifestyle,
for your brain too.

100 comments on “How Giving Birth Changes Your Brain

  1. What happens to a mothers brain when getting a abortion? I'm not try to be a jerk. Just from a mental standpoint, I don't really think anyone's going to look into that.

  2. Oh really , 1.5 billion abortions in the last 50 years. Make the women who get late term abortions put the baby in the medical waste buckets ! 😎

  3. If it’s love at first sight, those women who leave their newborns in trash cans must not ever be able to have a normal relationship with anyone. 🙁

  4. Babies are a drug 😂😂
    And exactly like drugs, they kill you slowly but surely, draining you from your own regular emotions 😂😈

  5. I learned all this in midwifery school, i kinda wish this was standard education about the female body and being a parent. Maybe then society would realize woman arent weak were empathetic and nurturers.

  6. My son is 7 months and I have only experienced all of that since 2 months ago.. it's not the same for woman with preexisting mental illnesses

  7. After having baby, your vagina loose and your husband will find a new fit hole. That's what they always does. You can't have both fit vagina and a baby. Unless the baby does not come from your wife.

  8. It's not just the mother that changes. I've never had children of my own, but I was in the delivery room when my neice was born, I stayed with my sister and her new baby for 6 months to help out. Thinking back I found myself being very protective of both my sister and her new baby and the slightest noise alarted me. Which I was never like that when my other sisters kids were born. Then again I wasn't around them a lot while they were pregnant with them nor with them at those births.

  9. My mom: oh I had a baby girl
    My dad: let's make her study oncology
    My mom: PERFECTÓ!

  10. Saw my baby on a 4d scan and now she is all i think about. I cant believe how much i love her and want to protect her already. She hijacked my brain.

  11. So what about those that feel absolutely no emotional or physical connection immediately after birth? Is there something wrong with them? I'm referring to those that give up their babies for adoption or i suppose even unplanned or even unknown pregnancy.

  12. All this science of primitive mom-child relationship.. I've been searching for long for science to explain why did my mom always beat me and once almost kill me..

  13. What they didn't say is that father's testosterone levels decrease during pregnancy. Men who do not have children have higher levels of testosterone.

  14. What if this was rape baby or unwated child?
    Also, you say "science shows" without providing the source. I can say "science shows bees on cocaine give more honey" but it won't make it so, just because I said "science shows".

  15. These are the natural instincts that science and education want us to negate. The only reason we exist is to make new life, it’s not work or career or money.

  16. I’ve never personally given birth cos I’m 14 lol but whenever I hear a baby or a young child crying I want cheer them up I guess I just have material instincts lol even tho i have no children

  17. Interesting! Still ain't having a kid though. I am an Asexual and I just want a man, a doggo, two goldfish, and a nice house! No kids! My nieces and Nephews are enough for me!

  18. I will never impregnate a woman.
    I will never impregnate a woman.
    I will never impregnate a woman.
    I will never impregnate a woman.
    I will never impregnate a woman.
    I will never impregnate a woman.
    I will never impregnate a woman.
    I will never impregnate a woman.
    I will never impregnate a woman.

  19. Just imagine how fucked up football would be if they used live baby’s like seeing Patrick Mahomes chuck a baby downfield

  20. Does this also happen to a family of 5 guys whose brother has 2 baby girls? I love my nieces and babysit them pretty often, there's just something about the whole thing. I feel like a parent, it's frustrating at times but I just can't say no to them. I'm definitely training to be a dad, but I just don't think it's going to happen anytime soon. Too much work lol.

  21. I don't like this, because it doesn't say any of the other changes in the brain that occur, focusing on a change that actually doesn't happen in most mothers, that "immediate connection, love at first sight" thing. They should have addressed the other side, where a whole lot of mothers experience THE EXACT OPPOSITE and the normalcy of that as well. PPD

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