Women Arise: The Mommy Brain
Article by Andrea Maher
I’m sure most women would agree that one of the most life-altering, momentous and transforming events that has ever happened in their lives was when they crossed over to the realm of MOTHERHOOD. This new role launches a woman in such a profound way that even the brain changes into what is called a “Mommy brain.” Yes Mommy brain!!!
Motherhood changes a woman’s brain structurally, functionally, and in many ways irreversibly. These physical cues stem from daily contact with their infant that forge new neurochemical pathways in the brain that create and reinforce maternal brain circuits aided by chemical imprinting and huge increases in oxytocin. These changes result in a motivated, highly attentive, and aggressively protective brain that forces the mother to alter her responses and priorities in life. I’m sure most of us could share a first-hand experience of some attack on our child that unexpectedly morphed us from meek, mild and reasonable into a ferocious MAMMA BEAR! Is God not amazing! “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful” (Psalm 139:14).
God created us females in so many unique ways that true science cannot deny it. The distortion of creation by humans cannot subvert the Creator’s plan of our unique differences—it’s divinely imprinted in our DNA. “He created them male and female and blessed them” (Genesis 5:2). Women have different bodies, different hormones and even different brains that separate us from males and guide us into womanhood. The hormone oxytocin, with the help of high levels of estrogen, plays an important role in preparing the body for the arduous process of delivering a baby.
Check this out! “When pregnant, the cells of the baby migrate into the mother’s bloodstream and then circle back to the baby. It’s called fetal-maternal microchimerism. After some time, many of these cells stay in the mothers body, leaving a permanent imprint in the mothers tissues, bones, brain, and skin. Every single child will leave a similar imprint.” (Bizarre and Wonderful World) And, perhaps that might explain why no matter how old our children become, our hearts are still heavily entwined with their lives; why we are intuitively able to pick up on trouble cues — even through reading their voice over a phone call.
Another miraculous part of our divine design is the hormone oxytocin. It is known as the love and bonding hormone. At the time of delivery, the body is flooded with these strong hormones, and if you’ve ever given birth, you know the power of this hormone because once mamma and baby’s eyes lock, there’s no going back. It’s love at first sight; an indelible imprint and connection occurs. These hormones serve as a superglue in bonding. Two lives become separate humans; yet remain inseparable forever.
Being a mother is one of the most important God-given roles we will ever be entrusted within our lives. The magnificent gift bestowed upon women to have the privilege to be part of the continuation of the human race cannot be underplayed. This role of a mother is a non-stop, daily process of caring, loving, teaching, and guiding our children.
She is a teacher in every aspect of their growth—socially, emotionally, cognitively and most important– spiritually. In this day and age of advanced technology, which can quickly interrupt or take over this responsibility, we must be ever more diligent in training our children.
And while the study of genetics shows the influential power of inherent traits, the social effect of a “mother’s love and guidance” is a central aspect of how our children will grow and thrive in this world. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). The first five years in the life of a child can be like wet cement. They are moldable and pliable and willing to be shaped. But the window of opportunity closes with each passing year. They can quickly be hardened by the culture if there isn’t an approach to parent with intentionality.
Grandparents can also be a treasured asset as the flood of cultural influences seek to undermine our children’s values and drown them in confusion. It is by God’s grace that a grandmother can be a bridge by being a line of defense through prayer. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded now lives in you also ( 2 Timothy 1:5). I love that Jesus adds grandmothers to this special calling.
As women, let us take our charge even more seriously and raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. If we do this, and the Lord tarries, we will see a church in the next generation that could potentially change the world.
The hand that rocks the cradle can leave an indelible imprint of faith that can pass from one generation to another.
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Andrea Maher is the former editor-in-chief of PARENT ABC’S a monthly magazine. Her writings have been featured in local newspapers and parenting publications nationwide. She is the author of LETTERS TO MY SON: Soley a God Story and SLAMMED: Overcoming Tragedy in the Wave of Grief.
She is the executive director of the Be Still Foundation, a ministry that disseminates hope and encouragement to families in crisis. She has been married to her husband John for 45 years and has four children and 10 grandchildren. https://bestillfoundation.org