Baby brain, and what oxytocin has to do with it!

The phrase “baby brain” gets thrown around A LOT but did you know that it is an actual thing?

Not just an “oh I left my keys in the freezer” thing, but scientifically? A mothers brain is different to a mans or even other women that have not had children. And I will explain why.

When we become mothers our brains actually shrink by about 7%!!! I bet this comes as no surprise to you if your are a mumma yourself.

The reason why our cognitive function decreases when we start our journey into parenthood is because of all the knew knowledge we need to make room for. Motherhood is an important gig and we need to clear some brain space, so, some of those less important things like where we left the car keys may get pushed to the back.

This is really mind blowing stuff!

When we become mothers we experience plasticity in our brains, which only happens during a few key periods in our lives, some of these other times are during childhood and menopause.

What is means for us is that we have a chance to re-wire our brains for the long term. What will happen is when our period of neuroplasticity is finished these new pathways we have formed will stick and be ingrained in us. So, if you have friends that say “you’ve changed since having kids” that is because you have!

So what does this mean for us and how can it go wrong?

You may be someone who has low levels of the love hormone called oxytocin during your postpartum period and Β I know first hand what this feels like because this was me! It could be due to a number of reasons including a traumatic birth, stress or even a lack of support.

Some of the things you may be experiencing if you have low levels of oxytocin are: extreme boredom, anxiety, fear and even restlessness. You may even be craving all the wrong foods and basically eating your emotions! If you are experiencing anxiety or hyper vigilance with obsessive behaviours, guess what? You can blame that on low oxytocin too!

So why am I mentioning this, and how come low oxytocin can become a problem?

It is because of the period of brain plasticity! We want to use this time to form positive connections, bond with our babies and change our worlds for the better!

So let us flip it on its head!

What are some of the signs that you have high levels of oxytocin flying around?

You live in the moment and are present in your parenting experience. You can’t get enough of your baby and just want to spend more time with him or her! Rather than feeling bored you are happy to go with the flow day by day and appreciate those precious moments. Β You may also be more emotional and trusting of other people.

On a physical level, oxytocin will encourage the let-down while breastfeeding so even if the mother has a good milk supply if she is experiencing low levels of oxytocin breastfeeding probably won’t be easy for her. Oxytocin also works as natural pain relief! This can help with recovery after the birth regardless of what type of birth you had.

Oxytocin is contagious, so look after yourself and everything else will flow! You need to feel good and trust me it will lift the spirits of those around us!

If you are someone who is experiencing some of the symptoms of low oxytocin, please reach out for support. This should be an amazing time in your life and we want you to remember it for all the right reasons!

We are very happy to announce that we will be offering one-on-one support to new mothers very shortly. What this means is that we can help to encourage that flow of oxytocin and help to support you with resources and whatever it is you need during the post partum period. If this is something you feel would be beneficial to you please reach out through our Facebook page or email Christie at christie@embracedmummas.com. We will be offering Skype sessions as well as face to face support in the Central Coast NSW area!

Christie xx

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