Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Mother's Touch

Author Unknown

Is there magic in a mother's touch?  Many people, even as adults, have a yearning for "mommy" when they're hurt, sick, sad, or having a bad day.  There is something healing in mom's nurturing voice and gentle hand.  Well, now there is research to support the notion that a mother's touch has healing power.  I'm so excited to share this research with you, because I just know every reader will have a "Aw, isn't that sweet" moment (and not in a sarcastic 'isn't that sweet" kind of way - a really sincere heart-warming kind of way).

Much recent research has looked at the emotional and behavioral impact of stress during pregnancy.  We know that depression during pregnancy can put a baby at-risk for emotional and behavioral problems for years.  But, what's a depressed and stressed momsie to do? Sometimes, you just can't reduce the stressors that enter your life during pregnancy and out-of-wack hormones can leave even the most emotionally healthy momsie depressed and irritable. 

Some really genius researchers at the University of Liverpool and King's College in London decided to step away from the blame game and provide some hope for depressed moms.  They thought, "Ok, so we know pregnant women can get emotional and stressed.  But, what can they do after the baby is born to mediate the effects of all that stress?" They found their answer by taking a clue from rats.  Apparently those yucky rodent pups have the same type of emotional and physiological reactivity as human babies when their mother has been stressed during pregnancy.  In simple language, the genes that play a role in the rats response to stress is altered, possibly for a life-time.  But, (oh, glorious, but) if a momsie rat licks and grooms their little pup after birth, those stress-response genes are activated and rat-pups are less emotionally reactive.

The British researchers looked at those nurturing rats and wondered if the same might apply to human babies.  They found that infant emotions of fear and anger, as well as heart rate response to stress at seven months of age changed by how often a mother stroked their baby on the head, back, legs and arms in the early weeks of life.  They suggest that those maternal strokes acted in the same way as in our rat friends, altering the gene for emotional reactivity. 

Amazing!  This means, sweet stressed-out pregnant momsie, that your child is not doomed.  When your beautiful baby is born, give her lots of strokes, rubs, caresses, and hugs.  (But, no licking. That's just for mice pups.)  Your bond will grow and your baby will learn to regulate his emotions. 

Isn't our God an amazing, redemptive God!

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