What’s Responsible For The Parent-Child Bond?
Every parent has felt that special and unique feeling of indescribable joy when gazing or holding her/his newborn for the first time.
And scientists have a word for it – oxytocin.
Oxytocin is what makes us parents. That is what scientists are telling us. Over the years, science tried to explain human feelings and emotions in terms of biochemistry. Oxytocin, for example, has been identified as the “feel good” hormone released during social bonding between people, especially those with close relationships such as spouses and partners. Oxytocin is also involved in motherhood, released in high amounts during birth and breastfeeding. Oxytocin facilitates the mommy-baby bonding especially in the first few hours after delivery.
So That Explains Mom – What About Dad?
In a study of 160 first-time parents, researchers report that first-time daddies do have high levels of oxytocin, too – levels which could be as high as those measured in mommies.
Of course Daddies do not breast feed, thus do not perform parental activities that usually trigger the release of oxytocin. So where do the hormones come from? The researcher believe that there other aspects of parenthood that stimulate oxytocin release in fathers. The mechanisms are unclear but the evidence is clear: fathers do bond with their babies and oxytocin is witness to this.
How Mommy and Daddy’s Oxytocin Releases Differ
The researchers also report that oxytocin levels may vary depending on parenting styles and specific patent-baby interaction. Mommies who are more affectionate, e.g. who love touching and gazing at their newborns (more than the usual, that is) are super-rich in oxytocin. Daddies’ oxytocin levels respond to more stimulatory contact such as those that encourage exploration or direction of a baby’s attention to a certain object. These differences, they say, can be explained in differences in the mail female brain.
Okay, so scientists tell us being a parent is simply the brain releasing the neurochemical oxytocin. For me, it feels more like love pouring out of my heart.