According to a study just published in The Journal of Child Psychology, new mothers who choose to breastfeed are more likely to bond with baby than those who choose to breastfeed and bottle feed or bottle feed alone. The emotional bond between mother and child is important for the mental and physical development of baby.
Participants in the study showed a greater neurobiological bond. This study is the first of its kind to show such a bond between breastfeeding mother and infant. Maternal brain function was directly altered when baby cried if the mother exclusively breastfed. Brain activity remained altered up to four months after birth. Particular sections of the brain affected by breastfeeding include the superior frontal gyrus, putamen, globus pallidus and amygdala.
Researchers noted that stress, environment, oxytocin levels and prolactin levels may also play a part in the neurobiological bond between mother and infant during breastfeeding. According to the lead author of the study, Dr. Pilyoung Kim, “It is important for the loved ones to support mothers and help them cope with challenges related to breastfeeding and parenting [during the first four months].” Kim went on to note that family support may give a new mother the encouragement she needs to build a stronger bond with her infant.
Breastfeeding is considered the healthiest choice for baby. Breastmilk contains all the calories, protein and fats baby needs, especially during times of extreme growth. The first four months are most difficult for new mothers because bonding occurs amidst lifestyle changes, lack of sleep and loss of familiar routine.
Source: Pilyoung Kim, Ruth Feldman, Linda C. Mayes, Virginia Eicher, Nancy Thompson, James F. Leckman, James E. Swain. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 4 January, 2012.