Motherhood changes a woman forever. It’s not a poetic metaphor about emotions. Pregnancy really transforms our bodies. And it’s not only about gaining a few pounds. For example, did you know that a fetus’s cells get into the mother’s blood and join her tissues: in her brain and heart? They remain there for years, maybe forever. Yes, we are carrying elements of our children in us.
Pregnancy, birth, childcare influence our bodies. But also make us realize how wonderful these bodies are. How powerful, how mysterious!
Perhaps you didn’t know that:
1. Your hearing is perfect
Maybe as early as when still in the hospital you learned that among all the sounds, all those babies crying, you were able to recognize your child’s crying. Even from the far end of the ward. You know it is your child and you know you must go to them. At once!
2. Your smell is calming
Even a few-day-old newborn knows the smell of their mother and it is their favorite smell among all the smells of the world. Hugging their mother, an infant calms down. Also clothes or soft toys that smell of mother makes babies calmer. Nursery and kindergarten children sometimes receive from their mother small objects that smell of the mother; this allows the children to feel their mother’s presence when they miss her.
Mothers also enjoy taking in their baby’s smell. The smell of a newborn stimulates the reward center of your brain, the very same one that is part of the addiction process and makes a smoker dream about a cigarette, or an alcoholic about a drink.
3. Shushing in the womb
Newborns and infants are calmed down by white noise, the same as produced by Whisbear the Humming Bear. Why is the sound so soothing? Because that’s the sound they heard while still in the womb! In there, they could hear working lungs and bowels, rhythmic beating of the heart, circulating blood and muted sounds from the outside. It’s not only noisy in the womb - it’s also not completely dark. It’s a world of brown semi-darkness, and if the pregnant mother shines a lamp onto her bump, the child inside will see a lighter spot.
4. You have an invisible power - bacteria
Pounds of bacteria live on your skin and mucous membranes. Most of them are beneficial and have a positive influence on our health. Through a natural birth, the child receives their first set of bacteria from you. It’s a precious gift. One that children born through C-section don’t receive. Studies show that because of that they are more prone to be allergic etc. (In some American hospitals children born through C-section have their skin swiped with a gauze pad with the substance from their mother’s birth canals, if she’s healthy.) After birth children are put on their mother’s stomach, so her bacteria can colonize the small body. This way they protect it from harmful bacteria. And finally, children receive beneficial bacteria also during breastfeeding. Thanks to that, their intestines are covered with a protective layer. Intestinal bacteria participate in food absorption, Vitamin K production and, most importantly, they build up resilience.
5. You can produce over 1.5 gallons of milk per week
At first there is not much milk, but it is very nutritious. The bigger the baby, the more they eat and the better they are at sucking. Production is adjusted to the needs, a number of feeding sessions, conditions.
6. Your milk is a powerful medicine
Mother’s milk contains, for example, antibodies, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, antifungal and anti-viral agents, growth agents, hormones, probiotic bacteria, prebiotics, vitamins, minerals... Premature babies fed with mother’s milk (their own mother’s or taken from a breast milk bank) develop better than children fed with formulae and are more likely to avoid dangerous diseases. Natural milk protects from, for example, necrotizing enterocolitis and sepsis.
7. You are able to give better diagnosis than House, M.D.
You are with your child non-stop and you know their reactions. You know how they breathe, swallow, fall asleep; you can tell their temperature with the accuracy of a thermometre. And the moment something is wrong - you know it. Your intuition works like a sensitive detector. Trust it. If you think there is something wrong with your child, consult it with a doctor.
8. You soothe pain
When your child requires a shot or a painful operation of some sort, you can provide them with a safe painkiller - give them a hug and offer your breast. Studies show that breast sucking raises the pain threshold for medical procedures. But that’s not all! When your child suffers from stomachache (e.g. during a colic attack), you can put them on your stomach or carry in a sling. The warmth of your body relaxes intestinal smooth muscles and alleviates the pain caused by air bubbles moving in the bowels.
Soon, you’ll learn one more thing about yourself. Your kisses have such power that they should be sold at the pharmacy. When an active child falls down and scrapes their knee, only your kiss can make the wound close. Well, all right, a band-aid with a bright picture will help too. But it is still your job to apply it ;).