Bonding with your children is an essential part of human interaction. It’s a highly rewarding experience which offers quite a few health benefits, even on the cellular level.
What is oxytocin?
Oxytocin is a hormone discovered in the 60s that allows the uterus to contract and the milk to eject from the breasts during breastfeeding. This hormone is produced in big amounts during childhood, and is also responsible for our interaction and bonding with others.
Proper oxytocin production allows mothers to bond with their children because of an evolutionary sense we all need in order to survive. Oxytocin is also known as the “love molecule” thanks to its major role in maternal and reproductive behavior.
The biology of love
As we said, bonding with others is critical to our survival. This experience enriches our life and reduces stress and anxiety, promoting brain development and assisting in reproduction. Social isolation has been known to cause developmental and physical disorders and can raise the risk of death. As many experts say, we are meant to be social, not socially isolated. Our oxytocin levels are associated with trust as well, which is another major factor required for social bonding.
The mother-child bond
A healthy bond between the mother and child will boost the production of oxytocin in your body and result in positive social behavior. Hugging, breastfeeding and th mother’s milk can boost the production of this important hormone in both the mother and child and strengthen their bond.
Failure to do so will result in low oxytocin levels and harm the child’s ability to bond with others, while also affecting its confidence. Stressful events during pregnancy have been associated with behavioral deficit in adulthood and anxiety as well.
After giving birth
Positive social experience and bonding becomes a basis for emotional and social development after the child is born. A study has found that positive social bonding results in increase oxytocin levels in the mother and child. Hugging and caring for your child will positively impact its social behavior and help it develop healthy relationship between the parents and child.
Furthermore, this kind of behavior will reduce stress and anxiety and reduce the risk of social deficit later in the life of the child.
So, every time you hug your child, you’re not only showing affection – you’re improving their mental health and behavior as well.