Category Archives: MeWe Birthing

Boldly Address Threats

Your brain changes during pregnancy to groom you for the costly commitment of carrying, giving birth to, and raising a child.  By the time your baby is born, you have a  Maternal Care System in play that primes you to find everything about your baby alluring.  After months of persistent activation of your “wanting” and “liking” neural circuitry, your brain is prepared to make you capably baby-based (Numan, 2016)!

“The same hormones that program fetal development are those that shape the maternal brain… an adaptive function for both mother and fetus” (Glynn & Sandman, 2011).

Your Maternal Care System enhances your capacity to attend to and handle threats, nudging you to protect your child against what seems dangerous, yet falls in the category of “neutral.” Interestingly, the hormones that maintain breast feeding (i.e., prolactin) also diminish your fear-for-yourself response, which allows you to boldly address threats on behalf of your child (Torner, 2016).

“Prolactin may act as a buffer to stress ” (Workman et al., 2012).

Your pregnancy and postpartum hormones definitely shape the maternal brain… to make you a competent caregiver.

References

Glynn, L.M. & Sandman, C.A. (2011). Prenatal origins of neurological development: A critical period for fetus and mother. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20(6), 384-389.

Numan, M. (2016). Neural mechanisms of mother-infant bonding and pair bonding: Similarities, differences, and broader implications. Hormones and Behavior, 77, 98-112.

Torner, L. (2016) Actions of prolactin in the brain: From physiological adaptations to stress and neurogenesis to psychopathologyFrontiers in Endocrinology, 25(7), 1-6.

Workman, J.L., Barha, C.K., & Galea, L.A.M. (2012). Endocrine substrates of cognitive and affective changes during pregnancy and postpartum. Behavioral Neuroscience, 126(1), 54-72.

© Copyright 2018 MeWe Birthing.  All rights reserved.

Mommy Brain

Fuzzy-headedness, not harmful shifts during pregnancy

While Mayo Clinic expert, Dr. Myra Wick,  says “there isn’t enough information to support the existence of baby brain,” she defines it as “harmful” while most neuro-scientists, including first-time mother, Dr. Elizabeth Meyer, identify it as “fuzzy-headed.”  If it exists, clinicians and researchers agree that it’s temporary.  It last no more than a couple of years.

Dr. Elseline Hoekzema at Leiden University (Netherlands) was the first to find the “maternal brain restructuring” not seen in fathers or the same women before they became pregnant.  It is not a cognitive deficit.  She suspects it is a shift in neural functioning to to increase “parental motivation” and “protective instincts.”

And it may not be restricted to mothers following birth!  Dr. Ruth Feldman of Bar-Ilan University (Israel) found that fathers who provided primary child care mimicked “mothers’ brain,”  though they defaulted back to business-as-usual when mother’s took charge.

“The mammalian brain (male and female) possesses a dramatic ability to shape shift when life demands it.” – Dr. Elizabeth Meyer

References

Desautels, C.B. (2016). Does pregnancy brain exist? Scientific American at https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/does-pregnancy-brain-exist/ 

Hoekzema, E., Barba-Muller, E., Pozzobon, C., Picado, M., Lucco, F., Garcia-Garcia, D., Soliva, J.C., Tobena, A., Desco, M., Crone, E., Ballesteros, A., Carmona, S., & Vilarryoa, O. (2017). Pregnancy leads to long-lasting changes in human brain structure. Nature Neuroscience, 20, 287-296.

Kinsley, C.H., & Meyer, E.A. (2012). Maternal mentality. Scientific American. Retrieved from  https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/maternal-mentality-2012-10-23/ 

von Hopffgarten, A. (2017). In baby mode. Scientific American Mind. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/in-baby-mode/

Wick, M. (2015). Does “baby brain” really exist? Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-answers/baby-brain/faq-20057896