Good things happen to the hormones of mothers and babies who are attached. Hormones regulate the body’s systems and help them react to the environment. One of these hormones is cortisol. Produced by the adrenal glands, one of its jobs is to help a person cope with stress and make sudden adjustments in threatening situations. For the body to function optimally, it must have the right balance of cortisol – too little and it shuts down, too much and it becomes distressed. Cortisol is one of the hormones that plays a major part in a person’s emotional responses. In reviewing attachment-chemistry studies , we conclude that a secure mother-infant attachment keeps the baby in hormonal balance. Insecurely attached infants may either get used to a low hormonal level, and so they become apathetic, or they may constantly have high stress hormones, and so they become chronically anxious. The securely attached infant seems to be in a state of hormonal well- being, and because the infant is used to that feeling, he strives to maintain it. Scientists are confirming what mothers have always known: Mother’s presence is important for keeping baby’s behavioral chemistry in balance.
Besides attachment parenting helping the baby’s hormones, it also helps the mother’s body chemistry. Maternal behaviors, especially breastfeeding, result in an outpouring of the hormones prolactin and oxytocin. These “mothering hormones” act as biological helpers, giving moms motherly feelings. They may, in fact, be the biological basis of the concept of mother’s intuition. Prolactin levels increase ten-to twenty-fold within thirty minutes after mother begins breastfeeding. Most of it is gone again within an hour. Prolactin is a short-acting substance, so to get the best response a mother must breastfeed frequently – which is what babies want anyway. Hormones are biological helpers that improve the behavior of the baby and the caregiving of the mother. Your choice in parenting style can make them work for you.