Posted by: Ticktock | September 5, 2008

Vaginal Births: A True Bonding Experience?

The verdict is in – mothers who elect to do c-sections don’t love their children.

Hooray for vaginal births!!!

OK, now that I’ve completely ruined my reputation as a respectable blogger, let me get to the actual science (and the truth).  A recent study of 12 new mothers indicates that women who give birth vaginally react to a crying baby with more concern and empathy; or at the least, the emotional areas of their brains light up on an MRI scanner when they hear a recording of their baby crying.

This is an extremely small study with six moms who gave birth naturally and six who had c-sections for “convenience” reasons.  There are a lot of possible reasons for the results, including random chance.  There’s also the possibility that mothers who opt to schedule abdominal surgery out of convenience have a strong-willed personality and a good grip on their emotions.

Also, it has been generously pointed out by several scientists that an MRI scan is not something that can be translated perfectly.  Nobody doubts that these women who chose their c-section actually love and care for their children.  Researchers hypothesize that the reason for the disparity in the two groups of new moms may come down to a lack of oxytocin.  It’s well known that the pushing of vaginal birth, as well as breastfeeding, releases oxytocin and floods new mothers with strong emotional and protective feelings.  That’s why new Moms can power through sleepless nights and still love their kids in the morning, and probably why Dads like myself can sleep through the night without waking once.  Not that I did that!!!

This is one study that deserves follow up.  I’ll try to contact the original researchers for an interview.  You can check out some of my previous interviews in the category links to the right.



  1. Interesting topic for study. It seems like it would be pretty difficult to separate all of the personality issues from the pure science. The moral values of somebody who decides to go the vaginal route are likely very different from somebody who schedules for convenience.
    They need to study some people like my wife who ended up having an emergency c-section (found out the cervix was tearing) and will have to have a c-section next time. She isn’t choosing to have a c-section, and frankly seems to be let down that she needs to go that route next time. That should eliminate some of the moral/personal issue, or at least provide some type of control subject, to compare with the other tests.

  2. Daring topic but I like your thoughts and your blog!

  3. […] Birth Vs. C-Section: The Interview! As promised, I sent James E. Swain some questions about his study comparing the MRI scans of mothers who […]

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