Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The ties that bind

Pregnancy is a miraculous thing. The human body is designed to expel whatever that is strange or foreign to it; that's the basis of our immune system (yes, our bodies are racist, get over it). But here we have an infestation of an organism (or even more) with half of its genetic material coming from a foreign source, and the woman's body adapts to nourishing and protecting it (except in rare cases).

When the time comes, the foreign organism makes the host's body expel it, with a great deal of labour (ahem) and pain. Et voila! A baby is now born. A helpless, piteously mewling little thing that is completely dependent on the former host (if lucky, and host's partner) for everything from food, water to shelter. And for the most part, the host is supportive and protective.


I mean, this organism has made your life difficult for the best part of nine months,  takes it's own sweet time to get out with much effort and discomfort on your part, and you welcome it with open arms? Superficially, it doesn't sound logical to grow attached and wanting ferociously to take care of what is, essentially, a parasite on your physiological and material resources.

But you do and that is thanks to the bonding molecule, oxytocin. No, not superglue.

Oxytocin doesn't just make a mother tend to be more nurturing (particularly breastfeeding mum), but it can also be stimulated in others. Visual cues such as a baby's cuteness, is thought to elicit the hypothalamus to produce oxytocin, making us want to coo and cuddle the adorkable little things.

To wit, my current source of oxytocin tsunami.

 Stolen with permission from my cousin
Escape artist have escaped the swaddling.  
  Dinner with mummy, post bath.

Tea time with big sister. 

 Oxytocin has also been implicated in development of trust and relationship-building behaviour. It appears that oxytocin starvation leads to impaired moral conduct. Could we one day modulate antisocial behaviour with judicious application of oxytocin?

Who knows?

But it would be great to find out, don't you think?


Queen of hearts said...

Thanks for the explanation. Very interesting. :D

adham said...

The anons is me btw

Seorang Blogger said...

x sabar aku nk baca kesemua link itu, sgt mengujakan.. tp terlalu byk yg perlu aku baca skrg.. must come back..

btw, dia adalah sangat gojes gojes gojes gojes berkali-kali ganda gojes!!

Snuze said...

Hi, Sophie. It often makes me marvel how after hours or straining yourself to exhaustion, a mum will glow when you place her baby in her arms.

Adham, no worries, mate. You have a good weekend, hear?

Pidah, terima kasih kerana kata dia gorjes. Sebagai makcik, mmg aku bias dan kata dia lah secomel2 ciptaan Allah. Ko bacalah link yang terakhir itu untuk mendapat gambaran sepenuhnya. Yang lain, sekadar penerangan saja.

All the best in your exam, babe!

Seorang Blogger said...

aku tlh membaca ttg oxytocin itu, hey thanx!! menariks, wp aku part yg aku berprasanga juga lah sedikit dengan kajian mereka itu ;-)