Do you have a good relationship with your mum? If not and you are planning to start a family, you better patch things up as soon as possible. New research has found that women who are not close to their mother, have problems bonding with their own babies.
The study, conducted by the University of NSW, found that ‘lower levels of the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin have been found in women who are not in good terms with their mothers’.
Professor Valsamma Eapen and colleagues, followed 680 pregnant women. Out of this group, they selected 100 who reported troubled relationships with their mother and another 100 who were very close to their mums.
In order to measure oxytocin levels, scientists took blood sample from these women before birth and three months after. On top of that, they were also asked to complete a questionnaire which assessed their early relationships with their parents but with their newborn too.
‘The group with troubled maternal relationships showed a clear deficit in oxytocin’, Eapen said. ‘Oxytocin triggers a dopamine reward response in the brain that promotes newborn bonding as a pleasurable activity.In the baby, this bonding sets lifelong oxytocin release pathways that, if compromised, will influence the child’s own future attachment relationships.’
The findings are important in identifying at-risk mothers and helping them break the cycle. That way mums can develop crucial bonds with their children.
The fascinating results have helped scientists concentrate on attachment therapies. ‘What we are now developing is attachment-based cognitive behavioural therapy for mums to reframe their own perspectives and attitudes to fix problems that have been pre-programmed’, Dr Eapen said.
Let’s hope also hope that many women prone to postnatal depression can also benefit from these type of therapies in the future.