This is your brain. This is your brain on oxytocin: Mom.

I think many women realize that their children make them vulnerable; their love for them holds them hostage.  So many things they would do (leave?)—but for the children.  I wonder how many realize that their imprisonment is physiological.  And, in most cases, as voluntary as that first hit of heroin, cocaine, whatever.

‘But I love my children!’  That’s just the oxytocin talking.  You think you love them because you’re a good person, responsible, dutiful, and, well, because they’re so loveable, look at them!  That’s just the oxytocin talking.

All those women (most of them) who didn’t really want to become pregnant, but did anyway (because contraception and abortion weren’t easily available, and sex was defined as intercourse), and then claimed, smiling, that they wouldn’t have it any other way, they love their children—just the oxytocin talking. 

The assurance that the labour will be worth it, that you’ll forget all about the pain as soon as you see your baby, as soon as you hold your baby—all true.  Because of the oxytocin. 

Which you’ll get more of if you breastfeed. 

And which you’ll get more of if you have a vaginal birth.  Which is why women who intend to give up their babies for adoption or who are surrogates should have caesareans.  It’ll reduce that drug-induced attachment, making it easier to follow through with their plans.  (Why doesn’t any medical professional tell them that?)

“Roused by the high levels of estrogen during pregnancy, the number of oxytocin receptors in the expecting mother’s brain multiplies dramatically near the end of her pregnancy. This makes the new mother highly responsive to the presence of oxytocin.” [1]   And, “Researchers have found that women’s oxytocin levels during their first trimester of pregnancy predict their bonding behavior with their babies during the first month after birthAdditionally, mothers who had higher levels of oxytocin across the pregnancy as well as the postpartum month also reported more behaviors that create a close relationship, such as singing a special song to their baby, bathing and feeding them in a special way, or thinking about them more. Quite simply, the more oxytocin you have, the more loving and attentive you are to your baby.” [2]

So those new mothers who don’t fall in love with their babies?  The ones who want to throw them out the window because they’re fucking crying all the time?  Their brains just didn’t produce enough, or perhaps any, oxytocin.  Post-partum depression?  It’s just oxytocin deficiency.  (It certainly doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.  I’d throw the kid out the window too.)

And here’s the kicker: oxytocin rewires your brain.  Permanently.  “Under the early influence of oxytocin, nerve junctions in certain areas of mother’s brain actually undergo reorganization, thereby making her maternal behaviors ‘hard-wired.’” [3] 

You become a mom.  Permanently.  Oxytocin makes you sensitive to others’ needs (not just your baby’s needs, not just your kids’ needs).  It makes you want to fulfill others’ needs.  (Not just your baby’s needs, not just your kids’ needs.)  You become nurturing, affectionate, caring.  (You become a proper woman?  A woman who knows her place?)  Oxytocin changes your personality.  It changes you.  As any drug does.

The rest of us, those of us who live oxytocin-free?  We don’t give a damn.  We’re not into nurturing others—children or men.  When we say we don’t like kids?  We mean it.  And when you say ‘Oh, just wait until you have some of your own, you’ll change your mind!’  They’re right.  Because we’ll become doped up with oxytocin.

So if you don’t want to turn into a Mom, if you don’t want to dedicate your life to others, to meeting their needs and desires, Just Say No.





  1. You’re in my email alerts for new posts, and this is a beauty!

    It makes such sense experientially, as a mother and a daughter, because my mom feels more bonded to me than I do to her, and I feel more bonded to my daughter than she does to me, and so it will go if she decides to re-wire with oxytocin, too, by being a mother someday.

    I’ve also read that oxycytocin is released with PIV, and that women bond by the oxycytocin for at least a year after the last PIV, which explains a lot about women who stay with battering men (who also batter them with PIV but with a side of drug-like oxycytocin) and women who can’t break free from PIV in general. The source if I recall (having once been a compulsive over-reader) about oxycytocin was Patricia Allen’s pro-marriage book that a non-RF friend was reading years ago, still in print (while RF books go out of print, sadly):

    That said, for me the combination of RF philosophy post-menopause and being post-men0pausal itself had taken me far along the path out of the past to having authentic Selfhood today.

    Also one personal advantage of being wired for mothering by having one child (only one, a daughter) is that my childhood and developmental states weren’t handled so well (not really mom’s fault, dad was sometimes a dominating, abusively selfish prick who scared us, at other times overly nice to me) — and indirectly I learned to love myself more by watching my own kid be a little girl and seeing how precious and perfectly imperfect she was in girlhood. If that was only oxytocin working in me, it was still to good effect.

    Thanks for the scholarship of this post. Definitely something for any woman considering being a mother to consider carefully.

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