Originally published November 2 2013
Baby's scent works like drugs on mothers' brains
by PF Louis
(NaturalNews) A mother's bonding with and nurturing of newborns is a natural function of all species. Instead of acknowledging natural instinctual behavior, medical science and psychology feel the need to probe the mechanics of how these behaviors unfold.
Researchers at the University of Montreal decided to rig up machinery, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) equipment, that's developed to read brain reactions in order to observe women's brain "pleasure centers" from infant scent exposure.
The brain's dopamine transmitter is the dopaminergic system of the caudate nucleus located in the center of the brain. The caudate nucleus is a double structure straddling the thalamus in both hemispheres of the brain. "This structure plays a role in reward learning," explains the study's lead author, Johannes Frasnelli. "And dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter in the neural reward circuit."
30 women were chosen for the study. 15 of them had recently given birth, while the other 15 had never given birth. All were non-smokers. Pajamas form unrelated young infants were used to arouse olfactory reactions, while the fMRI recorded the brain's pleasure centers' reactions.
The researchers observed that all 30 women had positive pleasure center or dopamine reactions, but the 15 who had recently delivered had more intense reactions. This research was published in the September 2013 edition of the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
Okay, now what?Frasnelli crowed, "What we have shown for the first time is that the odor of newborns, which is part of these signals [that promote nurturing], activates the neurological reward circuit in mothers. These circuits may especially be activated when you eat while being very hungry, but also in a craving addict receiving his drug. It is in fact the sating of desire."
That phrase, "what we have shown for the first time," comes from the center of scientific ego and evidence-based medicine. Nothing is true until research is rigged that can be repeated by other researchers, while those who make the first find are the innovators of a new field.
Sometimes this notoriety is warranted, but it seems there are more and more "research studies" done to replace experienced common knowledge and natural intuition while creating even more studies.
Science tends to dismiss empirically deduced or experiential insights as "anecdotal," thus without merit. This 71-year-old author has heard more than one woman remark that she inexplicably loved the smell of a baby. Seems like the biological impulse to bond with and nurture babies doesn't require laboratory study.
Unfortunately, there are psychological issues that can disrupt a mother's natural bonding with a newborn, such as resentment over the child's gender, appearance, predisposed health condition or for having an unplanned child. A traumatic delivery can hamper bonding, but often that is overcome in time.
Breastfeeding is one major way to enhance bonding while indulging the dopamine pleasures of a baby's scent. But there are occasions when breastfeeding is impossible for physiological reasons.
What's important for both the newborn's needs and cultivating a nurturing attitude from the new mother is constant touch, snuggling and caressing. More new mothers are taking to that by carrying their babies often with their arms or by using slings and baby backpack carriers.
Living in Mexico for a while, I observed both mothers and fathers carrying infants and toddlers in their arms often. It was also obvious their kids threw fits less in public places as they grew into toddlers and preschoolers.
Evidently, modern society has become so distanced from natural nurturing impulses with its socially engineered narcissistic patterns that we need "scientific research" to tell us what to do after centuries of birthing and child rearing.
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