The Nature & Science of The Mother/Child Bond

This page is a reference and link to research literature, scientific studies, and peer-reviewed journals regarding the innate and natural bond that begins in utero between a mother and her baby. This is a scientifically studied and unique bond that exist only between women and their babies. Biology, endocrinology, and human anatomy -written by nature and evolution- wires our species for such a bond. If mothers did not unconditionally love their children and were not bonded with their babies, we wouldn’t be here today. When adoption traffickers and misogynists alike denigrate motherhood in their exploitation of women and babies as chattel, they denigrate humanity.

It is very sad and sick that some would demand “evidence” for what’s inherent to humans. But there’s a lot of sad and sick people out there – opportunists use women and children for selfish agendas. In too many cases and trials of adoption trafficking, judges and attorneys have dismissed a mother’s anguish and grief at the legalized kidnapping of her baby as “hormonal,” as well as the infant’s incessant wail for its mother, (The Primal Wound), as colic when there is no medical diagnosis of colic. As I stated in a post (The “What’s Best” Fallacy), hormones are natural – it’s science – and it’s called endocrinology. A mother’s hormones are natural, logical, and sound. What’s unnatural is adopters coveting the baby of another women, using the mother as incubator and her child as a “gift” or commodity. What is unnatural, what is insanity, is the profoundly immoral and unethical trafficking of infants by attorneys, agencies, case/social workers, judges, and adopters. Adoption trafficking is not only insane, it’s an abomination.

This is why a collection of resources to stand as proof against adoption trafficking, as well as all forms of misogyny attacking the mother/infant bond, is needed. I’ve included links, quotes, and briefs descriptions for each category and source.

 

  • Breast milk has unparalleled benefits lasting a lifetime. Yes, “breast is best” – it’s nature, it’s science.

 

The Stranger: The More I Learn About Breast Milk, the More Amazed I Am

The most easily accessible article I’ve found on breast milk. An excellent, everyday source:

Those outcomes, though, are relative: A premature infant in the neonatal intensive-care unit or a baby growing up in a rural African village with a high rate of infectious disease and no access to clean water will benefit significantly more from breast milk over artificial milk, called formula, than a healthy, full-term baby born in a modern Seattle hospital. (…)

We’re also told that breast-feeding leads to babies with higher IQs and lower rates of childhood obesity than their formula-fed counterparts. I understand why people find this appealing, but I don’t plan to raise my daughter to understand intelligence in terms of a single test score, or to measure health and beauty by body mass index.

More compelling to me are the straightforward facts about breast milk: It contains all the vitamins and nutrients a baby needs in the first six months of life (breast-fed babies don’t even need to drink water, milk provides all the necessary hydration), and it has many germ- and disease-fighting substances that help protect a baby from illness. Oh, also: The nutritional and immunological components of breast milk change every day, according to the specific, individual needs of a baby. Yes, that’s right, and I will explain how it works in a minute. Not nearly enough information is provided by doctors, lactation counselors, or the internet about this mind-blowing characteristic of milk. (…)

Nutritionally, breast milk is a complete and perfect food, an ideal combination of proteins, fat, carbohydrates, and nutrients. Colostrum, the thick golden liquid that first comes out of a woman’s breasts after giving birth (or sometimes weeks before, as many freaked-out moms-to-be will tell you) is engineered to be low in fat but high in carbohydrates and protein, making it quickly and easily digestible to newborns in urgent need of its contents. (It also has a laxative effect that helps a baby pass its momentous first poop, a terrifying black tar-like substance called meconium.)

 Mature breast milk, which typically comes in a few days after a woman has given birth, is 3 to 5 percent fat and holds an impressive list of minerals and vitamins: sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and vitamins A, C, and E. Long chain fatty acids like DHA (an omega-3) and AA (an omega-6)—both critical to brain and nervous-system development—also abound in mother’s milk.
The principal carbohydrate in breast milk is lactose, which provides copious calories and energy to fuel babies’ relentless round-the-clock growth. (No, new parents, you are not hallucinating—your baby did just grow out of her pajamas sometime in the middle of the night.)

Other sugars are also present, including some 150 oligosaccharides (there may be even more, scientists are really just beginning to understand them), complex chains of sugars unique to human milk. (I repeat: unique to human milk.) These oligosaccharides can’t be digested by infants; they exist to feed the microbes that populate a baby’s digestive system.

And speaking of microbes, there’s a ton of them in breast milk. Human milk isn’t sterile—it’s very much alive, filled with good bacteria, much like yogurt and naturally fermented pickles and kefir, that keep our digestive systems functioning properly. So mother’s milk contains not only the bacteria necessary to help a baby break down food, but the food for the bacteria themselves to thrive. A breast-feeding mother isn’t keeping one organism alive—but actually hundreds of thousands of them.

Like a glass of red wine, breast milk has a straightforward color and appearance, but it possesses subtleties in flavor that reflect its terroir—the mother’s body. And it turns out that like any great dish of food, mother’s milk holds a variety of aromas, flavors, and textures. (…)

 

Clinical & Translational Immunology, “Maternal and infant infections stimulate a rapid leukocyte response in breastmilk”

Abstract cited:

Through breastfeeding, the transfer of immune factors from the mother to the infant, which had started already in utero, continues postnatally.1, 2 These maternal factors protect the infant from infections and assist in the development of the infant’s intestinal mucosa, gut microflora and own defences.3, 4, 5 Indeed, breastfed infants have a lower risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, and reduced susceptibility to gastrointestinal, respiratory and other infections than formula-fed infants.2, 3, 6, 7,8, 9, 10 The immunomodulatory function of breastmilk is thought to be mediated by both cellular and biochemical components, including maternal leukocytes and biomolecules with antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and prebiotic activities.6, 9, 11, 12 However, the underlying mechanisms through which these factors act to so consistently confer protection are yet poorly understood.13, 14  

 

Science News, “Backwash from nursing babies may trigger infection fighters”

This article references the previous sources listed above. It specifically focuses on the interaction between baby’s backwash and mommy’s milk.

Part of the immunity that breast milk imparts, it seems, may depend in part on a mixture of milk and baby saliva flowing upstream. This backwash may actually cause a mother’s body to create made-to-order immune factors that are delivered back to the baby in milk, some scientists think. So far, that concept remains a hypothesis, cautions biologist Katie Hinde of Arizona State University in Tempe, “but one that remains very likely given all that we know about physiology.”

Scientists caught the backward flow of milk by watching as milk-associated fat globules moved from near the nipple to farther back in the breast in a 2004 ultrasound study. Although that retro flow hasn’t been directly observed while a baby feeds, it’s likely that the same thing happens during a nursing session.

Through this backwash, the baby may be placing an order that helps a mother’s body cook up special-ordered germ-fighting milk, cell biologist Foteini Kakulas (formerly Hassiotou) at the University of Western Australia in Crawley and colleagues believe.

In a series of experiments, Kakulas and her colleagues have found that mother’s milk rapidly changes in response to a baby’s infections. Breast milk usually contains a small number of infection-busting cells called leukocytes. When a baby (or a mother) is sick, the numbers of leukocytes in breast milk spike, Kakulas and colleagues reported in 2013 in Clinical and Translational Immunology.

  • Olfactory signals, pheromones, the human nose, our sense of smell – one of the many aspects of the mother/infant bond. Babies recognize their mother’s unique scent, and mothers recognize their babies via scent. 

 

Communicative & Integrative Biology, “Chemical communication and mother-infant recognition”

Abstract:

Fifty years after the term “pheromone” was coined by Peter Karlson and Martin Lüsher the search for these semiochemicals is still an elusive goal of chemical ecology and communication studies. Contrary to what appears in the popular press, the race is still on to capture and define human scents. Over the last several years, it became increasingly clear that pheromone-like chemical signals probably play a role in offspring identification and mother recognition. Recently, we analyzed the volatile compounds in sweat patch samples collected from the para-axillary and nipple-areola regions of women during pregnancy and after childbirth. We hypothesized that, at the time of birth and during the first weeks of life, the distinctive olfactory pattern of the para-axillary area is probably useful to newborns for recognizing and distinguishing their own mother, whereas the characteristic pattern of the nipple-areola region is probably useful as a guide to nourishment.

 

Frontiers in Psychology, “Chemical communication and mother-infant recognition”

Abstract:

Studies in non-human mammals have identified olfactory signals as prime mediators of mother-infant bonding and they have been linked with maternal attitudes and behavior in our own species as well. However, although the neuronal network processing infant cues has been studied for visual and auditory signals; to date, no such information exists for chemosensory signals. We contrasted the cerebral activity underlying the processing of infant odor properties in 15 women newly given birth for the first time and 15 women not given birth while smelling the body odor of unfamiliar 2 day-old newborn infants. Maternal status-dependent activity was demonstrated in the thalamus when exposed to the body odor of a newly born infant. Subsequent regions of interest analyses indicated that dopaminergic neostriatal areas are active in maternal-dependent responses. Taken together, these data suggests that body odors from 2 day-old newborns elicit activation in reward-related cerebral areas in women, regardless of their maternal status. These tentative data suggests that certain body odors might act as a catalyst for bonding mechanisms and highlights the need for future research on odor-dependent mother-infant bonding using parametric designs controlling for biological saliency and general odor perception effects.

 

More sources on scent:

WebMD: Baby’s Nose Knows Mom’s Smell

attn: The Reason Women Love the Smell of Newborns Babies

 

  • One of the most interesting facts:  babies are born with accents! A podcast Scientific American explains, “…a new study in the journal Current Biology shows that the babies actually sound different. Because the melody of an infant’s cry matches its mother tongue.” You can hear how cry patterns match the rhythms of their native language. Amazing!

 

Science is my slingshot:

“This is exciting research that proves for the first time that the newborn’s brain responds strongly to the mother’s voice and shows, scientifically speaking, that the mother’s voice is special to ,” said lead researcher Dr. Maryse Lassonde of the University of Montreal’s Department of Psychology and the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Centre.”

Read more at:  Mom’s voice plays special role in activating newborn’s brain, Phys.org

 

  • STOP SEPARATING PREMATURE BABIES FROM MOTHERS.

 

Babies Rely on Mother’s Voice and Heartbeat To Develop Healthy Brains, PBS.org

Sound of mom’s voice boosts brain growth in premature babies, sciencemag.org