Most people have probably heard of a woman’s intuition and baby brain. But just in case anyone out there needs a reminder, the first is a woman’s talent for knowing how other people are feeling and the second is when mothers of newborns and toddlers feel foggy and are slightly, well a little more than slightly, forgetful.
While some people say that woman’s intuition is just a myth and that we aren’t any better at reading others than men are, this might not be the case. Some research has suggested that the reason women are more intuitive then men is because they were exposed to less testosterone in utero.
So there's science behind us now ladies. Don't be afraid to share this little piece of knowledge.
A recent study that was published in Nature Neuroscience discovered that during pregnancy women lose some of their grey matter in the areas of their brain that help them understand social signals, and their hippocampus (which is important for remembering things) shrinks. They also discovered that baby brain lasts for at least two years, and when the women in the study came back two years later, their hippocampus had regain its volume, but the loss to the grey matter remained.
But we don’t need to tell anyone about how it’s the hippocampus that makes us forgetful, so we have lots of time to use it as an excuse as why we put the laundry in the refrigerator and the milk in the cupboard.
When a woman’s intuition and baby brain collide, magical things happen.
13 Mothers Carry Babies On The Left
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As you are running around your house picking up clutter reading this article, you’re probably holding your baby on your left side (go ahead, you can check). In fact somewhere between 70 and 85 per cent of women carry their babies on their left side.
Why do we do this? Well, by holding your baby on the left side of your body, you activate the right side of your brain, because of lateralisation. Activating the right side of the brain is important for mothers because that’s the side of the brain that is in charge of reading emotional cues and understanding language.
So by holding your baby on the left it helps you to understand your child more easily.
12 Mothers Talk To Them
When we talk to our babies it activates the part of their brain responsible for language development, unlike strangers whose voices activate the babies’ voice recognition part of the brain. This difference happens fast too. When the research team from the University of Montreal and the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Centre learned this, the infants they were working with had only been born 24 hours (or less) ago.
What this means is that a mother’s voice is special to their baby, and by speaking to our babies we are helping them learn language. The scans showed that a mother’s voice activates the language processing center in their brain.
A mother's voice is the first constant voice they've heard since they were even able to hear. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that mom's voice activates the baby's brain centers. Not to mention that moms are probably doing a few things at once when they hold their babies and talk to them.
11 Mothers Teach Them The Art Of Conversations
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We also teach our sweeties how to converse with others when we talk to them. The researchers at the University of Montreal and the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Centre discovered that when moms respond to their babies as though they understood what their child’s babbles meant, their infants started making more advanced sounds earlier.
It encourages them to keep talking.
But, if moms didn’t actively try to engage with their child, but simply tried to distract their child they developed language more slowly. The researchers believe that this is because when you respond to your child as though you understand what they are saying, then you are teaching them that they are actually capable of communicating with you so they keep trying and eventually start babbling in more understandable ways.
10 Mothers Teach Them To Speak
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Listen to someone talk to a baby and you might notice that they speak in a different way than they would to an adult. For instance, they use a higher-pitched voice, they exaggerate their emotions, they repeat what they are saying a lot, and they speak using simpler words and sentences.
Several studies have shown that babies pay more attention to this type of speech than they do normal speech. In one 2006 study by Saito, 3-month-old babies were played recordings of adults speaking while they were sleeping. When the speech was infant-directed, the babies’ brains responded differently than if the recordings were of adult-directed speech.
This type of speech helps babies (and non-native speakers) identify the speaker’s emotions and intentions. For instance, the baby can tell if their mother is trying to comfort them, get them to stop an action, approves of an action, or is simply giving them attention.
It also helps babies learn how to speak, because it helps them learn how to tell the difference between speech sounds, recognize where one word ends and another begins, and learn to distinguish the different clauses in a sentences or stories.
9 Mothers Become Mama Bears
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You’ve probably heard that it’s dangerous to step between a mother bear and her cubs because she is super protective of them. Human mothers are the same way; although less likely to kill you for coming in between her and her baby, although she might figuratively rip your head off if you insult her child or parenting style.
This has to do with her stress levels and hormones. When a woman is lactating, her levels of fear and anxiety decrease (although this does get messed up with PPD and post-partum anxiety). This is because her body produces less corticotropin-releasing hormone or CRH.
And CRH is responsible for feelings of fear and anxiety as well as getting the body ready for action in stressful of frightening situations. So because women who are lactating produce this hormone less they are more ready to protect their children in scary situations because they won’t feel as afraid and they won't act scared.
8 Mothers Know Babies By Smell Alone
There’s more to that new baby smell than you might realize. As you sit there sniffing their hair to soak in that scent you are also picking up their pheromones, or those chemicals you give off when you are trying to entice someone to be attracted to you.
And it’s strong. In one study, new moms were asked to identify their babies by scent alone after spending only 10 minutes with them, 90 per cent could. Then after the mothers had been able to spend one hour with their babies, every single one of them was able to recognize their baby’s smell over that of other babies.
And we’re addicted to that smell. A study conducted by the University of Montreal showed that when a mother smells her baby it makes us happier, and our body reacts the same way it does when we finally get to eat the chocolate we were craving. This response is an evolutionary response that makes a mother care for her child which helps ensure the babies’ survival, because it helps mothers feel rewarded and good about themselves as mothers, when they are completely drained.
7 Mothers Pick Them Up When They Cry
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I don’t know about you, but the sound of a baby crying gets me in the feels every single time. I feel absolutely heart-broken when I can’t figure out why the little boy is bawling, and I just want to hug him and make it all better. This is totally normal.
And in fact, many other mothers report feeling this way as well. And it's for a good reason too.
When you pick up your crying baby, you are doing all sorts of good things for them. You are helping them to learn empathy for others, you are reducing their stress, you are helping them to become more resilient, you are helping them develop their conscience, and you are teaching them to control their impulses to name a few.
Picking up a crying baby is definitely NOT spoiling them.
6 A Mother's Brain Is Wired Specifically For Children She Produces
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Another thing, a woman's brain is wired specifically for her very own child. One study looked at the brain patterns of 13 mothers when they saw their baby, who was around 16 months old, smiling or crying, and compared it to their brain patterns when they saw or heard someone else’s child being happy or in distress.
Whenever the mother saw a video of her own child her brain pattern changed. While this change was present when her baby was smiling, it was super pronounced if her child was crying. This seems to suggest that this brain change is one of the ways mothers have adapted overtime to better care for their children to help ensure the babies’ survival.
But it's interesting how mothers feelings can empathize for another child, but they're not where near the same as the way they feel for their own child.
5 Mothers Know When The Children Are Sick
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I mentioned a mother’s intuition in the introduction, but this point deserves to be emphasized again. Because we spend so much time with our children and learning about them, mothers are able to quickly evaluate different situations and know what to do to solve problems for their children.
For instance, you might know that your child is unwell, even if the doctors tell you otherwise. Many women have pushed to have their kids seen by doctors and actually examined because they felt something was off, and they were right.
This is just another reason to always trust that inner voice that tells you when something isn't quite right. Besides, if you don't stick up for your kids, who's going to? So develop this skill early and learn to trust it. Worst case scenario, you're wrong.
4 Mothers Can Read Children
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We can also read our children to know when they’ve had enough of hanging out with other people in the world. So we know when they’re feeling overwhelmed by new situations, or when they’re tired of interacting with others and just want a chance to step back into a quiet place to cuddle and read stories, or to play by themselves for a bit.
We also can feel or tell when something isn't quite right for them when they're older too. This comes in handy during the pre-teen years and into their adult life. Knowing your children means that when another adult is trying to tell you that your child did something, that you'll know your child well enough to gauge whether they actually did the thing they were supposed to have done or not.
3 Mothers Really Do Have Mother's Intuition
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There are things that we just know. Some of us just know that the “cry it out” method is a terrible idea for us, or that breastfeeding won’t work. The very idea of it just feels off to you. Afterwards you are likely to find reasons to justify your stance, but the first initial reaction was your intuition, and it will play an important role in how you raise your children.
Although it is important to note that your intuition is colored by your past experiences, either as a child yourself or witnessing your own children so it might not always be accurate. However, it is a great, instinctive way for you to make decisions quickly. But try not to let yourself get stuck in a pattern long after your past experiences are no longer relevant (i.e. you or your child has grown and changed).
2 Mothers Want A Bond With Them
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When we snuggle our babies we are doing all sorts of wonderful things for them. One study by Ohio State University showed how cuddled rabbits were less likely to suffer from heart disease when they were on high-cholesterol diets. Another study by McGill University showed how baby rats that were extra coddled were less stressed and more adventurous than their peers.
But it actually goes deeper than even that.
Premature babies who are held skin-to-skin gain more weight than those who are not. And 20 years down the road those cuddled babies are still doing better than the unsnuggled preemies. They have higher IQs, were less hyperactive and aggressive, and were more likely to be earning a higher wage.
So all those cuddles do more than show love, they show the baby a pattern for life, of how relationships are built and maintained. What healthy relationships look like. All that good stuff that is simple, but so meaningful at the same time.
1 Nesting Urges Are The Beginning Stages Of Motherly Instincts
These whole maternal instincts have to start somewhere, and that is the nesting stage. You know that point right before you give birth where you suddenly have to make everything perfect. Your rooms get organized, your house is cleaned, thing’s are put away where they’re supposed to go.
This isn't just something that humans and birds go through, in fact there are many animals that do this preparatory practice when they're expecting a baby in the future.
It’s possible that this urge is caused by the extra adrenaline your body creates when you are getting close to going into labor, but it’s also emotionally driven. This is your body’s way of making sure you and your home are ready to house a new human. Just make sure you don’t overdo it and hurt yourself.
Sources: What to Expect, Scientific American, Parenting