Hug Your Monkey Even If You Don't Want Sex
Oxytocin Relieves Anxiety By Acting on the Brain

How Breastfeeding Helps Mothers Bond

Scientists at Warwick University have modeled the way breastfeeding creates an oxytocin feedback loop that creates the waves of love and peace that many mothers report enjoying while they suckle their babies.

According to the the UK's Mail Online,

... the research team, led by Warwick University scientists, has shown using computer models that when a baby suckles, the mother's neurons respond by churning out the hormone from their dendrites - the part of the cell that usually receives, rather than transmits information.

This extra release of oxytocin creates much stronger links between nerve cells - creating a 'positive-feedback' loop, where the greater the concentration of the chemical, the faster it is produced.

This allows massive, intense, bursts of the love hormone to sweep through the brain at intervals of around five minutes. The findings could shed light on other chemical changes in the brain linked to mood.

Professor Jianfeng Feng, who demonstrated the effect, said: 'We knew that these pulses arise because, during suckling, oxytocin neurons fire together in dramatic synchronised bursts.

'But exactly how these bursts arise has been a major problem that has until now eluded explanation.

This must be an amazing feeling, and I can see how it would create a very deep connection to the baby. I think those of us who haven't experienced this cannot imagine the feeling. I also have to wonder -- just a little? -- about how not experiencing this affects the bonding between mother and baby.

See also, The Mother/Baby Attachment Gap.