Sunday, August 2, 2009

There IS a Fathering Instinct

New research has shown that men have increased oxytonin levels after they become fathers.

Oxytonin is sometimes called the "mothering hormone" because it promotes caring, protective feelings in mothers towards their babies. Levels in a woman's body increase towards the end of pregnancy when oxytonin causes labour to occur. Oxytonin is also one of the key hormones of breastfeeding because it causes the let-down reflex. Its release is stimulated by the action of a baby sucking on its mothers nipple.

The new research looked at fathers' oxytonin levels six months after the birth of their children and found that they made more oxytonin than childless men. Furthermore, men with higher oxytonin levels played with their children more and had children who displayed more attachment to them.

So there is a biological foundation to the fatherly instinct after all.


willow81 said...

That's interesting, thanks

allgrownup said...

Perhaps interesting to consider cause & effect. Do dads with higher oxytocin levels play with their children/have better attachments, or does playing with children and working hard on good relationships with then CAUSE higher levels? Hmmm. Try as I might, I was not able to locate a single picture of me breastfeeding (although I know there is at least one) for facebook, we recently had a "computer accident" and lost 90% of toddler's baby photos. I'm gutted.

Amanda said...

Anyone who has watched an awesome husband grow into a amazing father had to suspect as much! Glad they've proven it :)

Cave Mother said...

allgrownup - I can only presume that there was some control to sort out cause/effect. They tested soon after birth and six months later and you might assume that levels soon after birth would be a result of 'nature' rather than 'nurture'. But maybe cause/effect is not the issue here - the interesting thing is that oxytonin increases at all.

allgrownup said...

I agree, Cave Mother! It's nice to see a study to support what modern parents have been experiencing for a while now, and I bet good parents from any era already know this too!