A new study by Valsamma Eapen and colleagues from University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia found that women with low oxytocinlevels in the postpartum have a history of bad mother-to-daughter bonding. The study is perhaps the first to show that women with reduced levels of oxytocin in the postpartum have higher subjective ratings and reported difficulties in bonding with their own mothers.
As previous research indicates that the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin is essential for the establishment of early bonding, the study suggests that mothers with low postpartum oxytocin may also struggle to bond with their own children.
According to the authors, “the immediate postpartum results show that what you experienced from parenting – these formative experiences – are critical in wiring your response to the oxytocin hormone”.
Since early exposure to dysfunctional parenting may contribute to childhood and later-onset mental disorders, the authors suggests that improving maternal sensitivity and bonding within the early period can alter the trajectory of development through programming of the infant oxytocinergic system. This may facilitate secure attachment and emotional resilience, mediated by neural receptivity to oxytocin release.