Hormone May Help Mom and Baby Bond
Pregnancy Levels of the Hormone Oxytocin May Influence Mother-Child Bonding
Oct. 16, 2007 -- The hormone oxytocin may help pregnant women bond with
their babies after giving birth, a new study shows.
Here is the study's key finding: A pregnant woman's oxytocin level during
the first trimester of pregnancy is linked to her bonding with her newborn.
The study included 62 pregnant women.
They completed mood surveys and provided blood samples during their first
and third trimesters of pregnancy and during the first month after giving
The researchers -- who included Ruth Feldman, PhD, of Israel's Bar-Ilan
University -- measured the women's oxytocin levels from the blood samples.
Feldman's team also videotaped the moms interacting with their newborns and
interviewed the mothers about how often they checked on their baby.
Based on the interviews and videotapes, the researchers found that women
with higher levels of oxytocin during pregnancy bonded better with their
For instance, moms with higher
oxytocin levels during pregnancy gazed at their babies longer, touched
their babies affectionately, had positive expressions while interacting with
their baby, and reported checking on their baby more often than moms with lower
oxytocin levels during pregnancy.
Oxytocin levels varied among the moms but were stable throughout pregnancy
and the first postpartum month.
It's not clear how oxytocin helped moms and babies bond, but the researchers
suggest that oxytocin may lower anxiety, paving the way for bonding to take
The study appears in the November edition of Psychological