We don't know if it's the act of breastfeeding or the oxytocin or any other factor. It's not surprising, then, that damage to the amygdala is associated with higher levels of depression in mothers. The greatest brain changes occur with a mother's first child, though it's not clear whether a mother's brain ever goes back to what it was like before childbirth, several neurologists told me. Another way to look at it: the blueprint for mothering behavior exists in the brain even before a woman has children. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters theatlantic. An estimated one in six women suffers from postpartum depression, and many more develop behaviors like compulsively washing hands and obsessively checking whether the baby is breathing. Sign in My Account Subscribe. Perhaps, then, motherhood really is like secret space in a woman's brain, waiting to be discovered. Just by staring at her baby, the reward centers of a mother's brain will light up, scientists have found in several studies.
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