With the year winding down, we rounded up all the articles that put the *ma* in amazing—complete with the science to back up what we already suspected.
Here are nine science-backed reasons from 2017 that proved (yet again!) that mamas are awesome:
A recent study published in Psychological Science found that a secure attachment—meaning kids know they are safe and loved—lays the foundation that helps them have better self-control. Down the road, that was shown to pay off with better performance in school. Yet another reason future valedictorians have their mamas to thank during those graduation speeches.
Although crying babies evoke emotional responses in all people, the reaction is the strongest of all in mothers—with studies showing the release of oxytocin makes us extra sensitive to babies in distress.
Not only are we wired to respond to our infant’s cries in specific, meaningful ways, but we also know how to respond to our sweet babies: A recent study found women from around the world all cared for their crying babies by picking them up, holding them and reassuring them.
If your mom is still at the top of your speed-dial list, science explains the reason for that: Mother-daughter relationships are the strongest of all parent-child bonds, according to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience. That’s because mothers and daughters’ brains are most alike when it comes to processing emotions, which goes a long way toward fostering empathy.
From the way it adapts to feed different infants at different times, to its immune-boosting qualities, breast milk very well may be the most super food of all. Science tells us that breastmilk changes according to baby’s sex, age and health—all while promoting better sleep and brain power. Now that’s amazing.
5. Breastfeeding builds a bond that lasts for years (and can also be achieved with bottles)
Another reason why breastfeeding is so amazing: Holding, talking to and responding to baby’s cues during feedings builds the relationship through loving attention. Now science proves that this deepened connection continues for years—as in 10 or more!—after baby is weaned. And whether breastfeeding or bottling feeding, any time spent making these connections is a good thing and can help a mama stay in tune with her child as they grow.
Not only does science tell us that mom brain is real, it shows that there is an upside. According to research, neurons are pruned and rewired in a mama’s postpartum brain to become optimized to care for her baby. So losing your keys really is nature’s way of making more space in your brain—space for growing even more empathy and compassion.
A recent report published in the journal Devlopment and Psychopathology, confirms the hugs we give our babies changes their DNA for the better. Basically, cuddling changes the timing of gene expression and affects long-term memory function. This kind of loving, gentle touch sets kids up for success. And that’s not to mention the benefits you get from it, too.
For moms, “trusting your gut” is sage advice—and science proves it. In fact, everything from your urge to use baby-talk to your intuition for when your child really needs you has a practical reason. And even if you don’t know the explanation, you probably already sensed its importance.
Science tells us that playing together is one of the most meaningful interactions we can have with our kids. Not only does it give kids crucial creative and social skills, but it’s also been proven to help parents destress and embrace the joyful parts of life.
Sure, motherhood can provide reasons for us to doubt ourselves—but each of us truly is amazing. Science proves it. ?