Mother-Baby Bond: The Biology of Love (VIDEO)
Of all the attributes that define human beings, our need to form strong emotional attachments to each other may be the most profound. And of these attachments, the bond between a mother and her infant is the most fundamental. It is a human being’s first attachment, a powerful bond that is formative in the broadest possible sense.
What is it that makes babies irresistible and a mother’s love automatic? Deepak Chopra brings his insight on the biological aspects of love and the budding relationship between mother and baby from conception to birth.
While there is no single, master template for the relationship between mother and infant, within this first bond are important elements that will also play roles in a child’s broader social ties.
Ultimately, all bonds are built on the cornerstone of communication. The fundamental bond between mother and child is the result of an ongoing conversation conducted on multiple levels, from the physiological to the emotional, cognitive, and social. Read more
From conception to birth, the mother-fetal bond is biologically indivisible. The communication between the mother’s body and the genetically distinct fetus begins with a physiological negotiation that prevents the rejection of the embryo as foreign tissue. The biological conversation that ensues for 9 months will be marked by tremendous complexity and subtle coordination. Read more
The placenta is an indispensable but temporary organ that physiologically joins the mother and the developing fetus. This remarkable, shared structure is the centerpiece of the complex dance that takes place between the needs of the mother’s body and the demands of the growing fetus. The placenta’s role is to facilitate the constant exchange of nutrients and wastes, including gases, as well as hormones and key immune factors. Read more
The growing fetus develops in a warm and watery world. Attached by the umbilical cord to the placenta, the developing baby floats within the fluid of the womb’s amniotic sac. Amniotic fluid first appears as a mere drop at about 3 weeks. The volume increases to about 1½ tsp (7 mL) of amniotic fluid by 8 weeks, 2 tbs (30 mL) by 10 weeks, and ¾ cup (190 mL) by 16 weeks. There is an average of 3¼ cups (780 mL) by 32-35 weeks. Read more
In the passage of just 9 months, a microscopic speck has become a baby. At week 7, the embryo is about the size of a grape, weighs a fraction of an ounce, and has webbed, but well-defined toes and fingers. During the fourth month, the fetus doubles in length, to 6 inches, while its weight quadruples to 4 oz. By 5 months, the fetal heart beats between 110 to 160 times a minute and pumps the daily equivalent of 150 qt of blood through its body. By the end of the third trimester, the baby can measure 14 inches from crown to rump and weigh 7½ lbs or more, taking up nearly every available inch of the womb. Read more
Pregnancy is a time of great joy, but even under the best circumstances, it is also a time of considerable stress and challenge, both physically and emotionally. Expectant mothers understandably want to know, “What can I do to make sure my baby is as healthy as possible? And what can I do to make sure I stay healthy—and happy—during my pregnancy?” Read more
Like every other step in the 9-month process, the initiation of labor involves a complex interplay of maternal and fetal factors mediated through chemical signals. The growing fetus has been sustained by the maternal heart/lung/immune/nutrition support system. And then, suddenly and dramatically, all of the infant’s developing systems must perform on their own at birth. The newborn is now thrust into physiological independence—but not without plenty of support. Read more
Mother’s milk is a marvel. It is an extraordinarily complex fluid, assembled in the mother’s body through a long series of interconnected steps. Breast milk is also uniquely adapted to the changing nutritional needs of a baby. At birth, breast milk
is perfectly suited for the infant’s vulnerable immune system and immature digestive tract. As the baby develops, the composition of breast milk
and its proportions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates change accordingly to fuel growth and development. Read more
A baby is not a blank slate at birth. Our human evolutionary heritage equips newborns with a range of behaviors that help ensure their survival, such as rooting for a breast and sucking, as well as basic physical reflexes. These earliest behaviors, in terms of neurological location, are mediated by the subcortex, a more primitive part of the brain that develops early and controls vital life functions. Infant development, explains Claire Kopp, is a process by which more and more of these behaviors arise from the higher-level region of the brain called the cortex. Read more
We know that complete nutrition is necessary for the healthy growth and development of an infant’s bones, muscles, and skin as well as the circulatory, respiratory, immune, and nervous systems. Good nutrition is essential for providing an infant with both energy and building blocks. A growing baby needs carbohydrates, proteins, and fats as well as minerals and vitamins for healthy development. Read more
Babies’ sensory systems require interaction with the environment in order to mature, which they do quite rapidly. “By 3 months,” says Claire Kopp, “they see nearby objects quite clearly, and in another few months, as well as most adults. Hearing also matures during the first 6 months and, at about a year, is comparable to adult hearing.” At the same time that visual and auditory acuity is improving, explains Kopp, it is also becoming more discriminating. Even when the sensory hardware is all in place, there are elements in vision and hearing that babies gradually acquire through experience, like being able to locate a sound as either distant or nearby or building a knowledge base about faces and objects. Read more
Every newborn comes into this world with a unique legacy and unique potential. That doesn’t mean, as developmental experts remind us, that infancy is destiny, at least not in any simplistic way. Mothers, fathers, family, caregivers, and community all help provide the psychological and physical environment that will provide babies with emotional, social, and cognitive support. Read more
Related Health Centers:
Infant Nutrition Health Center
, Mother-Baby Bond Health Center
, Mother’s Milk Health Center
, Monthly Infant Development Calendar Health Center
,Weekly Pregnancy Calendar Health Center