On the Women's Bioethics Blog, Sabrina W wonders whether the growing interest in oxytocin-based drugs could place mothers under medical scrutiny.
The way humans are wired is, labor and natural childbirth releases waves of oxytocin that not only produce contractions that expel the baby and dull pain, but also begin the bonding process between mother and child. Later, mothering helps shape the oxytocin response in the baby's brain.
It is often the case that the presence of a "cure" will pathologize any condition that could be treated by it. How long until a mother, or even a woman without children, who "lacks a nurturing personality" will experience social pressure to "correct her deficiency"?
This is reminiscent of early thinking on autism, that it was the mother's fault. So-called "refrigerator mothers," who weren't warm to their children, could damage their kids and create autistic symptoms.
While that theory is out the window, many researchers wonder if the heavy-duty dose of artificial oxytocin routinely given to laboring women could be at fault.