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. Continue reading.
Originally posted on Business Insider.
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