The Secret of a Mother's Hug


A mother's hug is the warmest place to hide. No sooner does a child rest in their mother's arms that they feel safe, sound, and energetic. Is there a physical explanation for this?

Well, there is. Studies have shown that skin contact between a mother and her child stimulates the secretion of some hormones, most notably oxytocin, which is associated with the feelings of trust, love, and safety, as well as serotonin and dopamine, which are associated with the feelings of happiness and comfort. These hormones cause chemical changes in the child's body, regulating the heartbeat, stabilizing the body temperature, and most importantly, relieving pain. The effect of hugging varies according to the requirements of the different age stages.

For example, a baby starts exploring the world through touching and skin-to-skin contact; a practice where a baby is laid directly on the mother's bare chest. Skin-to-skin contact has several benefits, including the following:

  1. Brain development: the baby develops stronger and faster brain responses compared to peers.
  2. Successful breastfeeding: Skin-to-skin contact stimulates milk secretion and flow from the mammary glands to the mammary ducts, making it ready for suckling.
  3. Bolstered immunity: Light pressure on the chest bones stimulates the thymus gland located behind the sternum at the top of the chest. This gland produces the thymosin hormone, which regulates the production of white blood cells and builds up the immune system.
  4. Soothing the baby when they feel pained or annoyed, and this relief has a scientific explanation. When the baby feels stressed, this stimulates the secretion of stress hormones, which worsens the fit. The mother's hug raises the oxytocin level, which reduces the stress hormones and soothes the the child.

During childhood, we move from complete intimacy and dependency on our mothers to exploring independence and the desire to lead. Here, embracing one's mother induces the confidence and security the child needs to deal with challenges. It also creates an emotional bond that stimulates creativity and social intelligence, and boosts mental capacities, leading to remarkable academic achievement.

During adolescence, the child develops mentally and experiences rapid physical changes and confusing emotional fluctuations. Here, embracing one's mother can act as a message of support, safety, and self-confidence. This strong connection nourished since infancy builds a friendship between the mother and her child, strengthens family bonding, and lays a foundation for a happy and psychologically-stable life.

Now that we realized how important mothers hugs are for the future of their children, we advise every mother to hug her offspring at least for 20 seconds daily because the psychologically-healthy children of today are the parents of tomorrow. So, if you want intelligent children, make sure to hug them".


Cover image by Freepik

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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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