It’s always lovely to take a photographic memory of my class which is then sent to the parents to keep – here are some images from a recent class showing week 1 and week 4, amazing how quickly they grow!
A recent study showed that the scent of a baby can bring out a mum’s caring side: changes in the brain can help mothers rise to the challenge of caring for their child.
The tears and the screaming leave some women wondering how they will ever cope, but a new study suggests that the scent of a baby may be the key to helping them deal with the fraught first few months of motherhood.
Giving birth rewires the female brain so that the odour of an infant fires up the part which keeps people rational, thoughtful and caring for others, it is claimed.
Researchers from Nagasaki University in Japan performed blindfolded sniff tests with 38 women, half of whom had children. Strips of T-shirts, some worn by four-day-old babies, some by men and others not at all, were repeatedly presented randomly and the participants asked in each case whether they could detect a bodily odour.
At the same time, monitors were tracking activity in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) area of their brains, known as ‘the seat of sober second thought’. When confronted with clothes worn by infants, women with children had an 82 per cent detection rate and underwent significant changes in function in the PFC. Meanwhile, the others had only 68 per cent success and showed virtually no variation in brain activity.
For clothes worn by men, the results were near-identical for both sets of women in detection rate (77 per cent versus 74 per cent) and PFC changes were similar too.
The study – published in the journal Chemical Senses – states: ‘In humans, therefore, it is possible that the female brain is moulded when women become mothers.
‘This possibility was also supported by a recent neuroimaging study, which reported that the first months of motherhood are accompanied by structural changes in brain regions including the PFC.
‘Taken together, our finding suggests that the response of the PFC toward infant odours is changed when women become mothers.This could be important for mothers caring and fulfilling the unique demands of their children We propose that infant odours enhance mothers’ willingness to approach their infants, which then serves as an intrinsic reward.’
Health psychologist, Dr Cynthia McVey, of Glasgow Caledonian University said: ‘It’s fascinating that this reaction is being seen in the prefrontal cortex because it’s the part of the brain which governs rational thought. Motherhood, especially in the first weeks of a first birth, is extremely stressful and women find it very difficult to deal with the challenges. So it seems that the smell of an infant works as a natural stimulant to increase the woman’s ability to cope. Of course, this would be most effective when the baby is being held close to when, for example, it may be in distress and crying, which is a situation mothers do find extremely hard to deal with at times. It’s also interesting that the women in the study were not new mothers so this effect appears to be long-lasting. As a grandmother myself, I cannot explain why the smell on the back of a baby’s neck is so heady – it’s the funniest thing.’
To read more on this fascinating study click here.
A couple of years ago a same sex male couple who had adopted a baby contacted me about baby massage classes. This chance encounter gave me a idea.
Baby massage had been recommended to them by their health worker and they wanted to give it a try, so we did a few sessions together which they found useful and supportive for their new family unit.
Prior to this my classes were only appealing to local mums, probably because most dads are out at work in the day time and mums are on maternity leave, or are stay at home parents. The feedback from the same sex couple was so positive that I decided to add on a 6th session to my course that would be for dads only. At the time no-one else was offering this in the area and it became really popular.
A year on, and around 100+ dads later, the sessions are going really well. Most men naturally have concerns before coming to the group and some are unsure why they are even there. For mums it has the added benefit of a morning of free time but for the dads, the main benefits are bonding and learning a new skill.
Many dads only get to see their little one in the evening and often only get home in time for bath and bed time. Learning how to give them some massage is a beautiful way to interact and get to know them and have skin to skin contact. It may only be for 10 minutes or so but the benefits are bountiful…
If there are any dads or indeed mums who’d like to find out more about the baby massage courses I run in Bath please contact me.
Had fun teaching the ‘Reflexology’ part of my Baby Massage course yesterday. Interesting how reflex points found on the feet and hands correspond to specific organs, muscles, bones and body systems. and by applying gentle pressure to congested areas in the feet, blockages can be released to restore the flow of energy to the whole body. It certainly worked on the digestive points, an active class!!
A nap after learning helps a baby consolidate its learning and memories, a new study finds. The study suggests that a flexible napping schedule could help infants learn. Dr. Jane Herbert, one of the study’s authors, said, “These findings are particularly interesting to both parents and educationalists because they suggest that the optimal time for infants to learn new information is just before they have a sleep. Until now, people have presumed that the best time for infants to learn is when they are wide awake, rather than when they are starting to feel sleepy, but our results show that activities occurring just before infants have a nap can be particularly valuable and well-remembered.”
The study, published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved showing over 200 infants between six and twelve months old how to remove a mitten from a puppet. They were tested on their newly learned skill 4 hours later and after 24 hours.
Some of the infants napped within four hours of learning while others did not. The results showed that only infants who napped for at least 30 minutes within four hours of learning could remember how to remove the puppet’s mitten. Babies that did not nap within four hours could not remember.
“Parents receive lots of advice about what they should and shouldn’t do with their baby’s sleep schedule. The study, however, examined learning opportunities around naturally occurring naps and shows just how valuable activities like reading books with young children just before they go down to sleep can be,” Dr. Jane Herbert continued.
The researchers conclude: “Until now people have presumed that the best time for infants to learn is when they are wide awake, rather than when they are starting to feel sleepy, but our results show that activities occurring just before infants have a nap can be particularly valuable and well-remembered.”
Content taken from IAIM.net/2015
Rather proud of my cranberry, apricot and nut health bars, freshly baked and ready for Baby Massage class today #healthlysnacks