There are many curious changes that happen to a new mom’s body after giving birth. Their hair color and texture might become different, foods that they once loved might suddenly start to taste disgusting, and there’s even such a thing as “phantom kicks,” which is when it feels like a baby is kicking inside your belly even though it’s not there anymore. And along with the body, the mind undergoes some changes too.
We at Bright Side think it’s fascinating how giving life to a new person can also change the mother. So here’s a taste of what happens to mothers’ brains after giving birth.
Your brain is flooded with feel-good hormones.
After women gave birth, they spent time with their babies, and researchers analyzed how their brains react to this interaction, especially to their babies’ cries and smiles. When a new mom sees her baby smile or laugh, her brain receives a large number of chemicals that make her feel good.
For example, as early as during pregnancy, she starts getting doses of oxytocin, the “love hormone,” and dopamine, the reward hormone. Researchers say it makes a new mom understand her baby’s needs and respond to them better. While breastfeeding, women are also flooded with oxytocin, which helps them bond with the baby.
Another change that happens in the brain, according to researchers, is that its reward region gets bigger. This also helps new moms want to make their bond with the baby stronger and take care of them.
Your gray matter shrinks, but it’s nothing bad.
Gray matter is responsible for seeing, hearing, processing memories and emotions, decision making, and the ability to interact with others. For example, it helps you understand what other people feel, pick up on nonverbal cues, and form attachments. Studies have shown that the gray matter in some areas of a new mom’s brain becomes smaller, and this change stays for up to 2 years after they give birth.
Losing gray matter might sound bad, but researchers have actually noticed that because of this, mothers are able to feel more attached to their babies, and they also feel less negative emotions toward them. So this change in gray matter actually shifts the mom’s
Researchers say it happens because the brain gets rid of certain connections between brain cells so that new connections, which are more important for taking care of the baby, can be formed. The brain becomes more organized and can process critical information more effectively, like if the baby needs to be protected from some sort of a threat, for instance.
Your memory is just as good as it used to be.
Some women claim that their memory got worse after giving birth and that they often forget things. However, according to research, there’s nothing to worry about. Women’s cognitive abilities don’t decline after birth. Forgetfulness can be explained by the fact that a new mom’s brain is more focused on the baby’s needs and the tasks associated with them. And because a newborn requires a lot of time and attention, it’s understandable that less relevant things are put on the back burner.
Did you notice any of these changes in yourself after the birth of your child? What else became different?