‘The Mother of All Bonds': Is there a scientific explanation behind why some mothers bond more quickly with their baby? How does GABA Play a role? Plus six steps mothers can take to activate more GABA in their brain after child birth.
Whether first-time, full-time, working, single or co-parenting, there’s no denying that the role of mother is among the most challenging, (albeit rewarding) of life’s jobs. From the moment you’re celebrating pregnancy – and even before you give birth - soon-to-be mothers are faced with numerous and divisive schools of thought on motherhood. Questions are posed every step of the way such as whether you’re a ‘perfectionist,’ ‘unpredictable’ or ‘me-first’ mother? Whether you should comfort or leave your child when they cry at night? Is it OK if you don’t breastfeed? And what if I don’t bond with my baby? - A concern shared by a quarter of new mothers.
• 20% of mothers experience some degree of postpartum depression, which can make it difficult to bond with their new-born.
• In a study of first-time mothers, 25% reported feeling no emotional attachment to their new-born during the first few days after birth.
• 1 in 3 reported new mothers feeling guilty or ashamed for not bonding with their baby as quickly as they thought they should.
Bonding with a new baby can be a complex process for some new mothers. Factors including physical and emotional stress, lack of support, and hormonal changes can inhibit connecting with your new child. But GABA Labs reminds guilt-ridden mothers that some of these challenges are chemical, and that neurotransmitters play a role in the bonding process.
Professor David Nutt, Chief Science Officer at GABA Labs, comments: “When it comes to neurotransmitters, most mothers have heard of oxytocin, dubbed the "love hormone" because it is released in response to social bonding and affectionate touch. During childbirth, oxytocin is released to help facilitate labour and delivery, triggering GABA in the process, and it continues to be released in response to breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby. Another neurotransmitter that can play a role in bonding is dopamine. Dopamine is involved in the brain's reward system and is released in response to pleasurable experiences, including social interaction and positive feedback.
Lessen known, though no less important, is the critical role that GABA plays in regulating anxiety and promoting relaxation in the brain. During pregnancy and childbirth, the levels of hormones in a woman's body change significantly, though managing your GABA levels can alleviate this sudden drop. a woman's GABA levels are disrupted, this can lead to increased feelings of anxiety and stress, which can make it more difficult to bond with her baby. We also know that high levels of GABA continue in the mother and are also present in the Baby during and after childbirth.”
GABA is one of the most important inhibitory neurotransmitters in the human brain. It plays a critical role in regulating the excitability of neurons and is involved in various brain functions, including mood, anxiety, and sleep. Recent studies have shown that GABA may also have a positive effect on new mothers and their new-born babies. It is believed that high GABA plays a significant role in the healthy development of the babies’ natural immunity and resilience.
What can mothers do to help release more GABA into their brains?
1. Skin-to-skin contact: Holding your baby close to your skin is a powerful way to activate your GABA nerves. The warmth and softness of your baby's skin can trigger feelings of relaxation and contentment in both you and your baby.
2. Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding is not only beneficial for your baby's health, but it can also activate your GABA nerves. However, breastfeeding is just one means for increasing GABA in the body, so it’s OK if you choose not to.
3. Baby massage: Gentle massage can be a soothing way to connect with your baby and activate your GABA nerves.
4. Mindful meditation: Practicing mindfulness meditation can help to activate your GABA nerves and promote feelings of calm and relaxation.
5. Listening to soothing music: Listening to calming music can also activate your GABA nerves and promote relaxation. Here are three playlists that we love:
"Mother & Baby" by Spotify: This playlist features soft lullabies and gentle instrumentals that are perfect for calming both mother and baby. You can listen to it here: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/37i9dQZF1DX7s4M4M4sD0z
"Baby Sleep" by Spotify: This playlist is designed to help babies drift off to sleep with soothing sounds and gentle melodies. It's also great for moms who need a little relaxation time. You can listen to it here: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/37i9dQZF1DWZeHJGznzlZM
"Mom & Baby" by Sleepy Moon Music: This playlist features a mix of lullabies, classical music, and gentle instrumentals that are perfect for bonding with your baby and promoting relaxation. You can listen to it here: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7KLJrDJXgLflJxG8rtv72r
- Maintaining a Healthy Diet and Gut Biome: A healthy Gut Biome is essential for a healthy GABA and in turn a healthy GABA can help to maintain a healthy Gut Biome.