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There are thousands of potential factors, both physical and emotional, that can influence the mother-child bonding process. Separation anxiety disorder is a condition in which a child becomes fearful and nervous when away from home or separated from a loved one—usually a parent or other caregiver—to whom the child is attached. Many new mothers do not always experience instant love toward their child they need to spend and care for the child as will as learning about he/she first. A maternal bonding is a gradually unfolding experience that can take hours, days, weeks, or even months to develop.
The maternal bond between a human female and her biological child usually begins to develop during pregnancy. The pregnant female adapts her lifestyle to suit the needs of the developing infant. Beginning around 18 to 25 weeks, the mother also can feel the fetus moving, which can enhance bonding, as can seeing her baby during an ultrasound scan.
The developing fetus hears the mother's heartbeat and voice and might respond to touch or movement. By the seventh month of pregnancy, two-thirds of women might report a strong maternal bond.
Mothers who did not want the pregnancy typically have a lower quality relationship with the child. They are also more likely to suffer from post-partum depression or other mental health problems, and less likely to breast-feed the infant.
The process of childbirth can strengthen this bond, though that is not always the case, as every birth and every mother is unique. Factors that might stress rather than strengthen the bond include a traumatic birth, the pregnant woman's mother's parenting style, experienced stress, social support, and the influence of a spouse or partner.
The emotional bonding theory first appeared in the mid-1970s, and, by the 1980s bonding had become an accepted maternity term, after which the process became analysed and scrutinised to the point of creating another term - poor bonding.
Production of oxytocin during childbirth and lactation increases parasympathetic activity, thus reducing anxiety and theoretically fostering bonding, so it is generally understood that maternal oxytocin circulation can predispose women to form bonds and show bonding behavior.
Moral side effects of oxytocin
In addition to being responsible for the close bond between a mother and infant, breastfeeding, and the group cohesion, a carefully controlled study exploring the biological roots of immoral behavior demonstrated that oxytocin promoted dishonesty when the outcome favored the closely bonded groups to which an individual belonged instead of just the individual. A real world example of this effect can be seen when parents lie about their address to gain admission to better schools for their children. According to the lead author, the study shows that oxytocin leads people to bend the rules for people they care about.
- Human bonding
- Paternal bond
- Cinderella effect
- Mother's boy
- Haptic Medicine, Babywearing, Co-sleeping
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