It’s very common to hear, “everything changes” after having your first baby. A lot of things do change, you’ll become a morning person, a shower will become a luxury, you will share everything and you’ll finally believe in love at first sight. But you’ll also experience emotional changes which turns out, are also largely neurological.
Before a woman even gives birth, her brain structure is tinkered with from pregnancy. The maternal feelings of overwhelming love, protectiveness and constant worry begin with reactions in the brain.
What actually changes in the brain?
There is typically growth in brain regions involved in emotion regulation, empathy-related and key regions linked to maternal motivation, which could largely be related to obsessive-compulsive behaviors. New mothers often show high levels of thinking patterns that involve things they cannot control. Their mind is constantly thinking about the baby. Is the baby healthy? Breathing? Sick? Full? During the postpartum period, there is an enormous desire to take care of your child. So if you recently gave birth and are having a hard time controlling your feelings and emotions, stay calm because your brain structure is still changing.
A set of neurons, known as the amygdala, helps process memory and drives emotional reactions like fear, anxiety and aggression. Activity in the amygdala grows in the weeks and months after giving birth. This growth explains how a new mother behaves; an enhanced amygdala makes her very cautious to her baby’s needs. What happens in a new mother’s amygdala has to with the hormones flowing to it.
Motherhood is almost like a secret space in a woman’s brain that is waiting to be discovered. This topic is complicated yet fascinating; in simple terms, during and after giving birth, your brain is growing and changing causing new reactions and feelings to emerge. So enjoy every minute of the ever-changing journey of motherhood and contact Maternal Resources for all of your pregnancy questions.