Monday, March 30, 2009

Baby News -- Bummers

**The brains of women who have natural childbirth appear to be more responsive to the cries of their own babies, compared to the brains of women who have C-section births.

The finding is based on brain imaging scans conducted two to four weeks after delivery among just 12 women, half of whom had vaginal births and half of whom gave birth by C-section. The study, published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, found that the cry of a woman’s own baby triggered significant responses in several parts of the brain related to sensory processing, empathy, arousal, motivation, reward and habit-regulation. The effect was greatest in the brains of women who had delivered vaginally compared to those women who delivered their babies by C-section.


**Babies born just three to six weeks before their due dates are more likely than full-term babies to have disabilities or developmental delays in kindergarten, a study has found. The children also are slightly more likely to be suspended or held back in kindergarten and to require special education.


**In Betty Friedan’s day, feminists felt shackled to domesticity by the unreasonably high bar for housework, the endless dusting and shopping and pushing the Hoover around—a vacuum cleaner being the obligatory prop for the “happy housewife heroine,” as Friedan sardonically called her. When I looked at the picture on the cover of Sears’s Breastfeeding Book—a lady lying down, gently smiling at her baby and still in her robe, although the sun is well up—the scales fell from my eyes: it was not the vacuum that was keeping me and my 21st-century sisters down, but another sucking sound.


**There is also evidence that the strains associated with parenthood are not only limited to the period during which children are physically and economically dependent. For example, Glenn and McLanahan (1981) found those older parents whose children have left home report the same or slightly less happiness than non-parents of similar age and status. Thus, what these results are suggesting is something very controversial – that having children does not bring joy to our lives.


**Despite the belief that children were the apples of our eyes, they actually had a negative impact on happiness.

The more kids you had, the sadder you were likely to be, Prof Gilbert said.

US and European studies had shown that people's happiness did spike while they were expecting a baby but sharply plummeted after the child was born.

The low point came when children reached the ages of 12-16, and recovered only when they had flown the coop, he said.

"In reality ... children do seem to increase happiness as long as you're expecting them, but as soon as you have them, trouble sets in," he said.

"People are extremely happy before they have children and then their happiness goes down, and it takes another big hit when kids reach adolescence.

"When does it come back to it's original baseline? Oh, about the time the children grow up and go away."

2 comments:

  1. Clearly Paloma will have to represent for her birth statistic. When she's won her third Nobel Peace Prize she'll laugh at this study.

    I'd be interested in seeing my brain scan versus a mom who's had a vaginal birth. I can't imagine being any more sensitive to Ev's cries than I already am. I literally wake up to the quietest noises he makes in his room at night and I hear him all over this house, even when others in the room don't.

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  2. If I remember correctly, the difference wasn't in how moms actually respond (waking up, offering food, etc.) but rather in how their brain chemistry responds. Moms almost universally respond attentively to their babies' cries, however those babies came into the world! The NYT blog post I originally read about the study didn't exactly make that clear, and it riled a lot of folks!

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