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What Happens To A Woman’s Brain When She Becomes A Mother?

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Researchers observed growth in hypothalamus and substantia nigra, parts of the brain responsible for emotion and reward behavior. Baby's cry triggers oxytocin, which is a happy hormone. Maternal feelings such as protectiveness and overwhelming love are aggravated. There is also proof that there is a change in perception of smell and sound in moms to help communicate with their babies.

Giving birth to a newborn and experiencing motherhood is something only a woman can feel. Research has shown that there is an increase in the size of the mid brain of a woman after child birth. Though brain size, especially the gray matter volume does not increase easily in a short period.

However, the adult gray matter volume changes rapidly when the brain experiences exceptional learning, injury, infection, or a major environmental change, as reported in Behavioral Neuroscience in October of 2010. The changes seem to begin, the moment the baby is born.

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Physiological And Emotional Changes

Growth Of Certain Regions Of Brain

Researchers have specifically observed growth in new mothers’ brain areas such as, hypothalamus, substantia nigra and amygdala, parietal lobe and prefrontal cortex. These regions are responsible for a person’s emotion, reasoning and judgement, the pleasure and reward behavior.

Release Of Dopamine

Scientists have found in several studies that just by staring at her baby, the reward centers of a mother’s brain light up. This creates dopamine, a chemical messenger that interacts with certain brain cells and causes a mother to feel really good.1

Increase In The Level Of Oxytocin

As a mother hears her baby’s pleasant coos and cries, there is an increase in the level of oxytocin in the woman’s body.

New Neural Pathways

The simple act of caring for her baby, creates new neural pathways in the mother’s brain.

Maternal Feelings

The maternal feelings of overwhelming love, fierce protectiveness, and constant worry, begin with reactions in the brain.

Development Of Mothering Skills

According to the researchers, the changes to the brain of the mother may be linked to the development of mothering skills after childbirth. Hence the period directly after childbirth is an important time for new moms.

Levels Of Enthusiasm

According to studies, it has also been shown that compared to the less-enthusiastic moms, the more enthusiastic moms were more likely to develop bigger mid-brain. There is also a growth in the key regions linked to maternal motivation, rewards, and the regulation of emotions.

Smells, Sounds And Communication

The experts from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, found that changes in the brain, particularly associated with the perception of smells and sounds, help mothers to communicate with their babies.

Thus, motherhood does have a huge impact on a woman’s brain. Women are basically happier and possibly smarter being a mom. Many scientists believe that mapping the maternal brain may be a key to understanding why so many new mothers experience serious anxiety and depression. This may also help develop new therapeutic approaches to treat the conditions like postpartum depression and compulsive disorders.

References   [ + ]

1.Bartels, Andreas, and Semir Zeki. “The neural correlates of maternal and romantic love.” Neuroimage 21, no. 3 (2004): 1155-1166.
CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

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322 comments
Donna Chaban-Delmas
Donna Chaban-Delmas 5pts

ha ha. When my son turned 18, he asked me, with a silly grin, "So, mom, I'm 18 ... are you sane now?" Got to love a good sense of humor but I'd have traded those 4 years for some sanity, for sure.

Pratibha Maghan
Pratibha Maghan 5pts

What happens to a woman's BRAIN when she gets married????

Wyisha Cook Gulston
Wyisha Cook Gulston 5pts

Yes exactly! We have 2 teen daughters and well lets just say I like vodka :-) and it goes down st8 up lol

Wyisha Cook Gulston
Wyisha Cook Gulston 5pts

Wait you're a grandma? Stop playin! You go girl (yes I brought that back) lol

Germaine Clemente
Germaine Clemente 5pts

All hell breaks loose. You never sleep again. You worry the rest of your life. Even tho they bring joy the worry is always there.

Akila Durairaj
Akila Durairaj 5pts

Ye to hai, par tumhara dimaag Aur ache se kaam karega :p

Chandanee Sembhoo
Chandanee Sembhoo 5pts

Bcz of hormonal changes, she might be stress easily n forgetful!

Rajani Putcha
Rajani Putcha 5pts

Her entire body n mind revolves around her baby now a days all the working woman worry who will take care of tiny tot they depend on their mother automatically n feel oh my baby is safe in my mother s hands

Sherilyn Jackson
Sherilyn Jackson 5pts

Chloe Louise Jackson Zoe Jackson no. 5 \U0001f60a\U0001f61a\U0001f61a\U0001f606\U0001f61a\U0001f60a

Carole Ross Nelson
Carole Ross Nelson 5pts

There was another study done that proved that the mothers of boys were found to ha e their som's dna in their brain. It might have been an article on the Huffpost.

Ayurveda
Ayurveda 5pts

Tejinder Mushiana Thanks! :)

RitzWick Lee
RitzWick Lee 5pts

when a woman turns mother, her brains become active and starts working exactly opposite of logic and her husband gets tortures all the time on all the issues at all the places.

Maria Maria
Maria Maria 5pts

3 kids and 3 grandkids later, still crazy lol

Donna Chaban-Delmas
Donna Chaban-Delmas 5pts

More to the point, what happens to a mother's brain when her son turns 13?

Lani Chan
Lani Chan 5pts

She becomes a fierce Mama Bear

Sharon Sutton
Sharon Sutton 5pts

It goes into overdrive mode and never slows down until they are adults. Then it idles in neutral between visits......:)

Ayurveda
Ayurveda 5pts

Could be as there is a lot of emotional attachment involved! :) Linda Wahler-Boggier

Linda Wahler-Boggier
Linda Wahler-Boggier 5pts

Hmmmm, children make us smarter! Yay! My grand babies have made me happier!

Shagufta Parween
Shagufta Parween 5pts

Yes.....you are so right just like me \U0001f633\U0001f633\U0001f631\U0001f602\U0001f602

Rena Pitre
Rena Pitre 5pts

#1 is why I now cry easily at movies \U0001f631