There is nothing better than a warm hug, right? Hugging is an important part of every interaction, and it strengthens family bonds and friendship.
Even scientists agree that hugging can bring your health to an optimal level. But, did you know that hugging also creates a couple of positive changes at a biological level? Ladies and gentlemen, we give you oxytocin.
In 1906, Sir Henry Dale was the first to discover this hormone. The term comes from the Greek “ωκυτοκίνη” or okitokini, which means “swift birth.”
Oxytocin levels increase in pregnant women prior birth, as this hormone actually enables contractions and lactation. The production of oxytocin affects your social behavior and your ability to bond with people close to you.
It also regulates your ability to interact with other people and explore things around you.
That’s the base of reproduction and child care. Oxytocin helps mothers to create a strong bond with their baby, because taking care of our children is what keeps us alive among other species.
Oxytocin has a great influence in both reproductive and maternal behaviors. People also know it as the “love molecule.”
The essence of love
Love and social bonding kept us alive, because they spice up human experiences, ease reproduction, and boost brain development by “killing” anxiety and stress.
Scientists have found that group exclusion can lead to physical and developmental disorders. This led to many deaths in animals and primitive human tribes.
We are designed to socialize. Social isolation will harm us. Oxytocin is tightly connected with trust. Every healthy relationship is based on trust, right? The hormone of love has an important role in emotional relationships, social bonding, and group inclusion.
Healthy bonds produce more oxytocin, and improve social behaviors. Breastfeeding, skin-to-skin contact and mother’s milk stimulate the secretion of oxytocin in both mothers and babies.
This strengthens their bond. Can you believe that the lack of hugging affects children’s confidence and ability to socialize. It’s confirmed that stress during the gestational period is associated with behavioral deficit in adulthood.
Scientists conducted a study based on rats. Prenatally stressed mothers were paired with offspring, and scientists noticed a raise in anxiety-like behavior and aggressiveness.
Wonder why? This all happened due to low oxytocin levels in the brain.
Post-birth oxytocin impact
Positive social experience and maternal love in early stages of live creates a socially and emotionally developed individual. Oxytocin in parents of 4-6 month babies is connected with the baby’s social engagement and its bonding ability.
High oxytocin levels in mothers are linked to the bond between mothers and babies. Hug your baby to boost its oxytocin levels. This will grow in a healthy relationship between you and your baby, and will exclude the risk of social deficits.
Hugging offers a lot more than you can think of. It is a power machine that works on biological levels.