As you’ve perused the Internet looking for recipes, kids’ craft ideas, or even just funny videos to break the monotony of your day, you’ve likely come across an article written by an expert that explains being a mom.
You’ve probably sat there and thought, “I don’t need anyone telling me how to be a mom!” And you’re right, you don’t.
You are an extraordinary being that has nurtured and grown another extraordinary being inside of you for nine months. You know the different cries your baby has and what each one means. You know exactly how to fix the boo-boo or what will be the No. 1 thing that will make them feel better when they’re sick.
You, a beautiful, strong, wonderful woman, definitely don’t need anyone explaining how to be a mom.
But what about some of the surprising facts about motherhood? The science-meets-sweet things that are unique to you and your son or daughter, but still connects you to mothers around the world?
Here are five of them:
You Literally Will Always Carry Your Child In Your Heart
From The Atlantic:
“In pregnancy, women are shape-shifters, their bellies waxing like the moon. After delivery, they hold another kind of magic: microchimerism, a condition in which women harbor cells that originated in their children even decades after birth.”
That’s right, not only does your baby have your DNA, but you are carrying theirs inside of you, even if your baby didn’t live to delivery.
Microchimerism offers health benefits to mothers, too. Author Laura Grace Weldon wrote that fetal cells:
“Provide some protection against certain cancers. For example, they’re much more prevalent in the breast tissue of healthy women than in those with breast cancer. Fetal cells are less common in women who developed Alzheimer’s disease, suggesting they provide late-life protection. Fetal cells can contribute stem cells, generate new neurons in the mother’s brain, even help to heal her heart.“
You Make Medicine In Real-Time
Scientists, researchers, and doctors have known for some time that breastfeeding provides real-time immune support to infants. Basically, if your baby is breastfed, you are making immune-boosting compounds and molecules that are being passed on to your baby. As she encounters bacteria and viruses, the added antibiotics they are receiving through your breast milk is giving them extra protection from disease.
Your Smile Is Like Music
As explained in Our Babies, Ourselves by Meredith Small:
“Babies and their mothers share a deeply physiological connection. In one study of infant reaction to mothers, fathers, and strangers, an infant girl was brought into a lab and set in a plastic seat that was curtained off from distractions. The baby was then approached by her mother, then her father, and then a stranger.
Chest monitors on the baby and the adults showed that the baby synchronized her heart rate to that of the mother or father when they approached, but she did not synchronize her heart rate to the stranger’s.
The data suggests that babies and their caretakers are entwined in a homeostatic relationship, with the baby clicking in with the parents to achieve some sort of balance.”
Your Voice Is As Comforting As A Hug
No, you don’t have to carry a tune – the mere sound of your voice with make even the most terrifying situations better. A study published in The Royal Society reported that the sound of a mother’s voice, even on the telephone, has the same effect as a hug.
In the study, 61 girls between the ages of seven and 12 were asked to make an impromptu speech, then immediately solve math problems in front of strangers. This sent their levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, soaring.
The girls were then divided into three groups, one comforted by physical contact with their mothers, another by phone calls from their mothers and a third by watching a film deemed emotionally neutral, the March of the Penguins.
Oxytocin rose to similar levels in the first two groups and did not increase in the third, saliva and urine tests revealed. As this hormone’s presence grew, cortisol faded.
Leslie Seltzer, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who led the research, said: “The children who got to interact with their mothers had virtually the same hormonal response, whether they interacted in person or over the phone.
“It was understood that oxytocin release in the context of social bonding usually required physical contact. But it’s clear from these results that a mother’s voice can have the same effect as a hug, even if they’re not standing there.”
Now you know why no matter how old your child is, when something is wrong, they always call for mommy!