What Happens to a Woman’s Brain When She Becomes a Mother

The neural correlates of maternal and romantic love, 2003 (University College London)

Even before a woman gives birth, pregnancy tinkers with the very structure of her brain, several neurologists told me. After centuries of observing behavioral changes in new mothers, scientists are only recently beginning to definitively link the way a woman acts with what’s happening in her prefrontal cortex, midbrain, parietal lobes, and elsewhere. On the most basic level, these changes, prompted by a flood of hormones during pregnancy and in the postpartum period, help attract a new mother to her baby.

The artist Sarah Walker once said that becoming a mother is like discovering the existence of a strange new room in the house where you already live.  Walker’s description is more precise than the shorthand most people use for life with a newborn: Everything changes.


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