This is a bit sketchy, but I thought science was the best place, because it's a real question, not a theoretical or moral issue...

I was once in a discussion here on A|N on abortion. Although I was agreeing with the choice of the issue, I mentioned that from what I saw, more women regretted abortion than regretted parenthood. (I wasn't trying to inflame the issue, but the all-or-nothing argument was a little threatening. In what was perhaps my own naive little way, I was still trying to protect the best interests of women.) The response I got was something to the extent of that "mythical" connection that a mother has to a child as she holds it ... does not exist. This was a long time ago, so forgive me if the story is off but it got me thinking.

From all that I've heard, this "baby connection" is sometimes entirely true. (This is based almost purely off of what I hear from parents, more particularly mothers, which is possibly the best and worst source of information on the subject.) Other times, a mother feels nothing, or even resentment-- but that is usually caused by postpartum depression and such issues, or that has been my understanding. Even though it sounds like some magical, bullshit type of phenomenon, from the "evolutionary perspective" (which I am at times, loathe to take), it makes complete sense. Babies are work. You've gotta love them. It's crucial to their survival.

Of course, we live in a time when most babies, theoretically, can be planned out or prevented if unwanted. Therefore, just as theoretically, when a woman is expecting, she's planned it and is excited, and loves the baby before he/she is even conceived. Could this account for the baby connection? Is it completely voluntary, and does it even exist?

Plenty of women, not planning to have a child, have aborted and don't look back. A baby was NOT in their best interest. The sane part of my sex does not feel guilty for using birth control. A baby is not in our interest. However, were I to get pregnant, I don't think I could help myself from naturally adoring my child (although postpartum has been seen in my family). Would this reaction, if real, be something caused by hormonal changes, evolutionary strategies, societal ideas, or would it be completely voluntary? Is it something else entirely, and have I missed the mark and should I go pick up a science textbook before shaming the human race with my offspring? (Well, screw you, sir.)

Is it purely because they're so very cute? Because I don't buy it. There are some pretty ugly babies out there. (And their mothers are apparently delusional, or in denial of this.)

Share your thoughts. I wanna hear 'em. Unless they're awful. In which case, please don't share.

Someday we'll find it... the baby connection. The lovers, the dreamers, and meeeee...




Tags: BabyLove, babies, baby, calling, connection, doctor, for, love, the

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When I argue with people about abortion, which is as pointless as giving a goldfish a bicycle, there's now winning. Their obsession is with potential life rather than current life, whereas mine is the reversal. However, what you stated is true. When you first find out that your pregnant, how you feel about it will affect your choices and afterthoughts. If you are ambivalent, you will regret whichever choice you make. If you want the baby, you'll develop that connection to it a lot sooner. If you know you don't want it, you'll be able to abort without regrets.

There is a connection that is part of evolution, that drives us to protect our young even when it's detrimental to us. And it likely does form during pregnancy, when you're further along. It's not when you first find out you're pregnant that the connection exists, it's only your own desire for the baby that fuels that. But when you can feel it kicking and believe that there is clear interaction between you two, yes, it's begun forming. Once born, all it takes is looking at the baby to recognize that connection. That's why in older days, they wouldn't even let a mother see her baby before putting it up for adoption. To keep her from changing her mind.
Would this reaction, if real, be something caused by hormonal changes, evolutionary strategies, societal ideas, or would it be completely voluntary?

A bit of all that.

I don't think it can be dismissed simply as a myth. People do seem to have this attachment reaction to newborn infants and babies. And given the huge investment (cost) in raising a human child is does make sense, evolutionarily, for there to be some sort of attachment that helps ensure the successful rearing of a child. And we're not the only animal that forms this sort of attachment. Other primates behave similarly, as do some other mammals. Even birds. The length of time that attachment lasts may vary, but it does seem to occur in many species. One must, of course, be wary that such an explanation could well be a 'just so' (post hoc) story, but on the face of it it does hold merit.

There is also a very strong social element to the expectation of attachment. Even if we find an infant of baby to be rather ugly, there is an expectation to utter some comment along the lines of, "How cute!" And mothers that do not form this attachment are seen as being a 'bad mother'. The lack of attachment may be due to post-natal (post-partum) depression or simply because the mother just has no interest. Some people are like that, and that's fine. Though this latter experience is rare, I wouldn't be surprised to find that the rate is much higher than we might expect, as many of these mothers are grinning and bearing it, putting up the façade to maintain that societal expectation.
I don't think I have the same feelings my wife does when it comes to the kids. Sometimes it is like she has a psychic voodoo link to them. She could tell exactly why they were crying even at a very young age. For me it was more trial and error. I would have to try all my options (the bottle, burp them, walk with them, change them). My wife knew from a distance exactly what they wanted. Remarkably though... she is like this with every child she has ever met.

I come from a family where almost everyone had an autism spectrum disorder, and lacked this "psychic voodoo" link to children and babies - and to everyone else for that matter.

There was an article on the Net, written by an autistic mother. It described very well what you are talking about here: the woman was unable to understand why her babies were crying, and proceeded by trial and error, trying all the options. Unfortunately the article seems to have been removed from the Net.
I have a curiosity. What made you decide to have a child?
I don't believe there is any myth at all. From an evolutionary point of view there is an obvious reason for the intense connection between mother and child and to a lessor degree in the father (at least in the higher mammals). There is an inverse relationship between the number of offspring at a time and the degree of attachment to the offspring - momma frog doesn't give a squat for the hundred or so tadpoles she spawned. Threaten mother bear's offspring and one will be in deep doo doo.
Without the care giving behaviour the offspring's chances of survival range from very poor to none - a behaviour that leads to a quick road to extinction. The degree of universal consistency of the behaviour is as close to a slam dunk as one could find.
There is irrefutable evidence that shows that the mother's sight of the newborn alone brings about strong hormonal and physiological reactions in the mother.. IMO, there are genetic and or epigenetic factors that are necessary to species survival in nature.
I used to go jogging with my sister in the mornings, and her neighbors have geese. Holy jesus they're mean little bastards. O_o
Yeah, they really are. As a kid they surrounded me and started closing in on me once when I ran out of bread. I never gave food to those jerks again.
I've had first hand experience with momma goose - they can bite the shit out of you and they are fast as hell.
Jim I think you're spot on! We Mammals don't the need to produce 100 offspring because we've developed hormonal triggers that urge us to protect and care for our young. (Sometimes it seems like it might take less energy to just have a hundred babies)

In one of my pre-nursing anatomy and physiology classes we learned about Oxytocin.
My professor called it the "cuddle hormone."
It's made and controlled in the brain by the Hypothalamus and stored in the Pituitary gland. Oxytocin stimulants a mother's uterus to contract when it's time to deliver the baby. You may have heard of women receiving the drug Pitocin to induce labor. This is a synthetic form of Oxytocin. It also acts as a hormonal trigger for milk ejection, promotes sex drive and. . .drum roll please. . .plays a major role in the expression of maternal behavior.
There have been a lot of experiments with rats and sheep that manipulate Oxytocin or its receptors. Blocking the hormone causes these animals to reject their babies. Increasing the levels of Oxytocin in virgin females causes them to nuzzle, coddle and nurture other mother's babies.

Some of my friends think that I'm minimizing the personal experience of love when I talk about the physiology that governs it. I don't think that knowing how a roller coast works or how it was made diminishes the thrill of the ride. There is more beauty, poetry and elegance within the human body than any love story I've read.
I agree, evolution has forged a complex symphony of chemistry and physiology that allows us to find some satisfaction in or lives and gives us, at least, the illusion of purpose.
It's a wonder we don't have synthesized oxytocin running rampant on the street the way we do drugs that affect dopamine or norepinephrine. >.> Instead, we just eat chocolate, which also releases small doses of oxytocin, same as sex.
I am still ProChoice intellectually but I am ProLife emotionally

Same here.

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