Maternity is today and always being like a mystery. There are many things that change inside a pregnancy woman, not only the obvious also the ones that can’t be sown with the naked eye.
Neuroscientific studies have shown that the principal brain area that changes is the Amygdala, which drives emotional reactions like fear, anxiety, or aggression and helps process memory.
In a normal brain, the activity grows in the weeks and months after giving birth. This growth, researchers believe, “is correlated with how a new mother behaves an enhanced amygdala makes her hypersensitive to her baby’s needs while a cocktail of hormones, which find more receptors in a larger amygdala, help create a positive feedback loop to motivate mothering behaviors. Just by staring at her baby, the reward centers of a mother’s brain will light up, scientists have found in several studies. This maternal brain circuitry influences the syrupy way a mother speaks to her baby, how attentive she is, even the affection she feels for her baby”(Lafrance, 2015).
In and other hand a damage in the amygdala is associated with higher levels of depression in mothers.
In a 2011 study, women reported feeling more positive about photos depicting their own smiling babies compared with photos of unfamiliar smiling babies, and their brain activity reflected that discrepancy.
Greater amygdala response when viewing their own children was tied to lower maternal anxiety and fewer symptoms of depression, which means that a new mother’s brain changes, motivate her to care for her baby and also adjust her own emotional state.
The hormones flowing to it are responsible for much of what happens in a new mother’s amygdale. The region has a high concentration of receptors for hormones like oxytocin, which surge during pregnancy and is responsible for maternal-infant bonging. This strikingly increase during pregnancy and the postpartum, then the more mother is involved in childcare, the greater the increase in oxytocin. LAFRANCE, A. (2015). What Happens to a Woman’s Brain When She Becomes a Mother. The Atlantic.[Online].
[Accessed: 11th May 2016]
Therefore, a lot of changes occurs outside and inside mothers, but is amazing what happen with the brain in order to face the new experience; that’s a really transformation.
Ruth Talavera Flores
Research Associate & IRIANS’s Representative for
the Iberian Peninsula and Mexico
IRIANS – The Neuroscience Institute