The time spent with the family and kids is an important part of human interaction. It strengthens the bonds and leads to numerous physical and health benefits. Apparently, at a biological level, it causes remarkable positive changes.
Oxytocin is a hormone first discovered in 1906, by Sir Henry Dale, who coined the term, and derived it from the Greek “ωκυτοκίνη” (articulated as okitokini), which means “swift birth”.
This hormone is released in high amounts during childbirth and allows the uterus to contract during birth and milk to eject during breastfeeding. Oxytocin regulates numerous important social behaviours, like the ability to bond with friends and family.
It helps the mothers to have healthy bonds with their children since from an evolutionary aspect, treating our progeny has enabled our species to survive. This is why this hormone is also called the “love molecule”.
Our survival is determined by love and social bonding, as they improve human experiences, help reproduction and improve the development of the brain by reducing anxiety and stress.
On the other hand, group exclusion leads to physical and developmental disorders, like raising the danger of death in both animal designs and primitive human people.
Therefore, we are created as social animals, and oxytocin positively associates to trust, which enables healthy psychological relationships, group inclusion, and social bonding.
Oxytocin is released during mother-infant bonding and positively impacts social habits. Its production is promoted by hugging, breastfeeding, skin-to-skin contact.
Abnormal bonding, like a lack of hugging, has negative results on the confidence of the child and its ability to develop healthy relationships with other people.
For instance, stress during the gestational period may be linked to behavioural deficits in later adulthood, as a result of the way to influences oxytocin systems.
The findings of studies conducted on rats revealed that in case of paired prenatally stressed mothers and offspring, the low oxytocin levels result in increased aggressiveness and anxiety-like behaviours.
After the birth of the child, its psychological and social developments are based on the positive social experiences and maternal bonding in the early life of the baby, which also heighten the resilience during stress.
Studies discovered a connection between the levels of this hormone in both mothers and fathers of 4-6-month-old children and the level of social engagement and bonding of the baby with the parents.
Increased oxytocin levels in moms are linked to the increased mother-infant bonding. Thus, bonding with the child, for example, through hugging, raises oxytocin in the body, and thus allows a healthier relationship between the parents and child, reduced stress, and prevents social deficits as the child grows up. For that reason, feel free to hug that little miracle of yours whenever you can!