Mothers aren't the only ones who are biologically adapted to respond to children. New research from the University of Notre Dame shows that dads who sleep near their children experience a drop in testosterone. Previous research from humans and other species suggests this decrease might make men more responsive to their children's needs and help them focus on the demands of parenthood.

In a recent study, Notre Dame Anthropologist Lee Gettler shows that close sleep proximity between fathers and their children (on the same sleeping surface) results in lower testosterone compared to fathers who sleep alone.

The study will appear in the September 5 issue of the journal PLoS ONE.

Gettler sampled 362 fathers, all of whom were between 25-26 years old, and divided them according to their reported nighttime sleeping location: solitary sleepers, those who slept in the same room as their children, and those fathers who slept on the same surface as their children.

Fathers' testosterone levels were measured from saliva samples collected upon waking and again just prior to sleep. Though the waking hormone levels of the three groups showed no significant differences, fathers who slept on the same surface as their children showed the lowest evening testosterone.

"Human fathers' physiology has the capacity to respond to children," Gettler says. "Our prior research has shown that when men become fathers, their testosterone decreases, sometimes dramatically, and that those who spend the most time in hands-on care -- playing with their children, feeding them or reading to them -- had lower testosterone. These new results complement the original research by taking it one step further, showing that nighttime closeness or proximity between fathers and their kids has effects on men's biology, and it appears to be independent of what they are doing during the day."

Substantial research has been conducted on the sleep and breastfeeding physiology of mother-baby co-sleeping, but this is the first study to examine how father-child sleep proximity may affect men's physiology, and it is the first to explore the implications of co-sleeping for either mothers' or fathers' hormones.

In other species, testosterone is known to enhance male mating effort through its influence on muscle mass and behaviors related to competing with other males and attracting female attention. The hormone is thought to operate similarly in humans, and higher testosterone has been linked to behaviors that might conflict with effective fathering, such as risk taking and sensation seeking. Prior research found that men with lower testosterone reported greater sympathy or need to respond to infant cries relative to men with higher testosterone.

"There are so many intriguing possibilities here for future research: Why do fathers have lower testosterone when they sleep very close to their children? Does it reflect human fathers' roles in our evolutionary past? How much do fathers vary in their nighttime care when their kids are close by? How does co-sleeping change fathers' sleep architecture when we know that co-sleeping increases mothers' arousals and mothers sync to their infants' sleep patterns," says Gettler.

"Testosterone is a hormone that frequently is a part of public discourse, but the false idea that 'manliness' is exclusively driven by testosterone often dominates the conversation. There is growing evidence that men's physiology can respond to involved parenthood -- something that was long thought to be limited to women. This suggests to us that active fatherhood has a deep history in the human species and our ancestors. For some people, the social idea that taking care of your kids is a key component of masculinity and manliness may not be new, but we see increasing biological evidence suggesting that males have long embraced this role."

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120907165259.htm#st_refDomain=www.facebook.com&st_refQuery

 

Increase Breast Milk Supply

Concern over low milk supply is a very real issue for many breastfeeding moms.  While not having enough milk is the most common reason given by mothers for early weaning and supplementation, actual low milk production is very rare. 1 Whether it is real or perceived, understanding how your milk supply is established and knowing what to do to optimize your breast milk supply can relieve stress, worry, and ensure your body has the opportunity to make enough milk for your baby.

Strategies to increase breast milk supply

Once you realize there is a milk supply issue, diligence is extremely important to help build your supply.

  1. Ensure you are feeding your baby with a deep latch and effective milk transfer at his early feeding cues, without limiting access to the breast, at least 8-10 times (or more!) every 24 hours.
  2. Increase the amount of times your baby is nursing at the breast.  Babies with an effective suck are usually more effective at milk removal than pumping or expression.  Offer each breast more than once at a feeding and offer to nurse your baby often!
  3. Use breast massage/compression.  Think of this as “pumping” into your baby.  Breast compressions while breastfeeding (or pumping) help your breasts drain even more milk.  And an empty breast makes more milk.
  4. If your baby doesn’t completely drain your breasts, you can express following a feeding to help build your supply.  Alternatively, if your baby does empty your breasts, waiting 30 minutes (while your breasts are busy at work making milk) and then expressing will help increase your supply.  Remember, an empty breast makes more milk, whereas milk stasis in your breasts slows milk production.
  5. Don’t allow more than 5 hours to go between a feed, and only allow this much time once every 24 hours.  If your baby goes this long between a feed, make sure he is still nursing at least 8-10 times in a 24 hour period.
  6. Spend as much time skin-to-skinwith your baby as possible.
  7. Consider safe bed sharing or co-sleeping with your baby.
  8. Avoid pacifiers (dummies) and anything else that would keep him from suckling at the breast.
  9. Consider taking a galactagogue.  Herbal galactagogues include fenugreek and blessed thistle.  There are also prescription medications that can help (though all galactagogues can have side effects and inherent risks) so other measures should be tried first.  Also, a galactagogue will only be effective if you are frequently and effectively removing milk from your breasts.
  10. If a supplement must be given, consider giving it through an at-breast tube feeding device.  This has the benefits of continued breastfeeding and breast stimulation while at the same time giving your baby a supplement (which could be formula or breast milk), skin-to-skin time holding your baby, and no chance of nipple confusion! But, be aware that formula takes nearly twice as long to digest as breast milk (78 minutes vs. 48 minutes) so if you give a supplement with formula (as opposed to expressed or donor breast milk) then your baby may sleep longer between feeds than he should.  You may need to express twice during this time to actually mimic how your breastfeeding baby would have nursed.
  11. If any bottles are given, make sure you pump or hand express on both sides so your body knows that your baby just ate.  If using a pump, make sure the flange is the correct size.
  12. Use caution with bottles. Babies must suck at the breast before there is a let-down of milk.  This makes it easier to self-regulate how much milk he actually needs.  With a bottle, some babies continue to eat even when they are full because it is an “effortless flow” and they can do nothing but gulp and swallow.  Taking care in how you give a bottle can ensure this doesn’t happen.

Other things to consider:

  • Make sure you are not using any hormonal medications (estrogen suppresses lactation and progesterone may also) or other known anti-galactagogues (such as decongestants).
  • Is it possible you are pregnant?  Hormonal changes in pregnancy can also decrease your milk supply.
  • Have your doctor check your endocrine levels. Perhaps there is a thyroid issue or some other hormonal imbalance that could be corrected with medication.

Source: http://www.nursingnurture.com/increasing-milk-supply/

 

Who is Ugly The Mind or Body?

It was a crowded flight and a beautiful lady aged around 40 years boarded the flight as the passenger. She searched for her seat and found her seat was next to a black man.
She showed that she wasn’t in a hurry to take her seat as she found it too hard and awkward to sit next to a black man.

Feeling disgusted, the beautiful lady called the air hostess and asked her to change her seat.

The air hostess requested for a reason why she would like to change the seat.

She replied, “It is impossible for me to sit next to a black man, I hate it!

The air hostess was shocked to hear these hard words from the one who looked so dignified and composed.

She again demanded her to get her a new seat. The airhostess said she would do so and requested her to wait for a few minutes.

The air hostess went in search of an empty seat for the lady. The air hostess told the lady, ‘I’m afraid Madam, there is no vacant seat in the economy class and the flight is almost full! However, we do follow the policy to fulfil the desires of our passengers to the maximum extent possible. So, give me a minute, I will check with my captain and get back to you, as we feel it is not fair to force a passenger to have an unpleasant seat!’
The lady waited for a couple of minutes and the air hostess came.

The latter replied, ‘Madam, sorry for this inconvenience. We don’t want to make your journey unpleasant by making you sit next to someone with whom you aren’t comfortable. There is one seat available in the First Class. Although we don’t allow any passenger to move from economy class to first class, to make you a happy customer, we are doing this for the first time in our company’s history. Our captain agreed to shift from economy class to first class.!’
Just before the lady said any word as a reply, the air hostess humbly requested the black man and told him, ‘Dear sir, would you please shift your seat to first class? Please retrieve all your personal items from your seat and our captain would like to move you to first class as we don’t really want to have an uncomfortable journey sitting next to an unpleasant person, with an ugly mind!‘
The lady was quiet and frozen! A few of the fellow passengers were happy and gave huge applause for the flight crew!

 

Brain processes ongoing pain more emotionally

A momentary lapse of concentration is all it takes for a finger to become trapped or sprain an ankle -- and it hurts. Pain is the body's protective mechanism and a complex neurological phenomenon. Moreover, ongoing pain in the sense of chronic pain can be a disease, clinicians say. Scientists have now demonstrated that already during a few minutes of ongoing pain, the underlying brain activity changes by shifting from sensory to emotional processes.

 

1a

The picture shows the EEG results during a short (left) and a long-lasting pain stimulus (right). The brain areas with the strongest activity are depicted in red. Short pain stimuli are processed in sensory brain areas, whereas ongoing pain is processed in frontal brain areas which are related to emotional processes.
Credit: E. Schulz et al., 2015, Prefrontal gamma oscillations encode tonic pain in humans, Cerebral Cortex.

A momentary lapse of concentration is all it takes for a finger to become trapped or sprain an ankle -- and it hurts. Pain is the body's protective mechanism and a complex neurological phenomenon. Moreover, ongoing pain in the sense of chronic pain can be a disease. Scientists from Technische Universität München (TUM) have now demonstrated that already during a few minutes of ongoing pain, the underlying brain activity changes by shifting from sensory to emotional processes.
•    Chronic pain
•    Pain
•    Nociceptor
•    Back pain
•    Gate control theory of pain
•    Aggression
In their experiments, Prof. Markus Ploner, Heisenberg Professor for Human Pain Research at the TUM School of Medicine, and his team investigated pain perception: How does the duration of pain or the action of a placebo affect activities in the brain? For their measurements they used electroencephalograms (EEGs). The test subject wore a cap with 64 electrodes that can measure nerve cell activity in the brain throughout the experiment. This method makes it possible to chronologically pinpoint which signals nerve cells use to respond to a pain stimulus.

Pain influences emotion
The scientists used the following arrangement for their experiments: Over a period of ten minutes, 41 participants in the study were given painful heat stimuli to the hand which varied in intensity throughout the duration of the experiment. The participants were asked to continuously assess the level of their pain on a scale of one to a hundred with the other hand using a slider.
"We were absolutely amazed by the results: After just a few minutes, the subjective perception of pain changed -- for example, the subjects felt changes in pain when the objective stimulus remained unchanged. The sensation of pain became detached from the objective stimulus after just a few minutes," says Markus Ploner, describing the results.
Previous studies showed that brief pain stimuli are predominantly processed by sensory areas of the brain that process the signals from the sensory organs such as the skin. However, in their experiment with longer-lasting ongoing pain, the EEGs gave the scientists a different picture: in this case, emotional areas of the brain became active.
"If pain persists over a prolonged period of time, the associated brain activity shows that it changes from a pure perception process to a more emotional process. This realization is extremely interesting for the diagnosis and treatment of chronic pain where pain persists for months and years," explains Markus Ploner, who is also senior physician in the Department of Neurology at the TUM Klinikum rechts der Isar.

Placebos change the perception of pain
A second experiment showed that it is not just the duration, but also the anticipation of a pain stimulus that affects perception. Twenty test subjects were initially given different intensities of painful laser pulses on two areas of the back of the hand. The participants then rated verbally how strong they perceived the pain stimuli. As the experiments progressed, the subjects were once again given the same stimuli, the difference this time being that two creams had previously been applied to both areas. Although neither cream contained an active substance, the subjects were told that one of the creams had a pain-relieving effect.
The result according to Markus Ploner: "The subjects assessed the pain on the skin area with the allegedly pain-relieving cream as significantly lower than on the other area of skin." The scientists were further able to demonstrate how the brain implements this placebo effect: although the subjects were given the same pain stimuli, the nerve cells in the second run triggered a different pattern of brain activity.
"Our results show how differently our brain processes the same pain stimuli. Systematically mapping and better understanding this complex neurological phenomenon of 'pain' in the brain is a big challenge, but is absolutely essential for improving therapeutic options for pain patients," in Ploner's opinion.

Story Source:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150311124530.htm?utm_source=f

Daydreams May Improve Cognition

While the self-reported incidence of mind wandering was unchanged in the case of occipital and sham stimulation, it rose considerably when this stimulation was applied to the frontal lobes.

“Our results go beyond what was achieved in earlier, fMRI-based studies,” Bar states. “They demonstrate that the frontal lobes play a causal role in the production of mind wandering behavior.”

In an unanticipated finding, the present study demonstrated how the increased mind wandering behavior produced by external stimulation not only does not harm subjects’ ability to succeed at an appointed task, it actually helps.

Source: Psych Central News
http://psychcentral.com/news/2015/02/24/daydreams-may-improve-cognition/81

My paternity leave experience and 5 reasons why I believe every dad should take one

Amid all the talk about women “leaning in” (learn more about it HERE) and achieving their career goals, the other part of the message hasn’t got nearly as much publicity – many modern men feel left out of their family life!

Paternity leave

The paternity leave is something that I’m very emotional about and something that I have had a very close experience with.

As a society, we’ve made massive progress in providing women with access to parental leave after the birth of a child, but there’s still much work to be done for fathers. Children’s Chances, the most comprehensive study to date on global laws and policies that affect children and families, found that out of 193 countries surveyed, 180 provide some form of paid leave for mothers and 81 guarantee similar rights to fathers. The United States is not one of them.

For the last 10 years, my career had always been my #1 priority. My wife’s pregnancy did wonders with me. 7.5 weeks ago, when MJ was in labor and we were driving to the hospital, I couldn’t have imagined anything work related that would have caused me not to be there for MJ and for our (then unborn) baby-girl.

At the time, I was excited and passionate about our new life and being an involved father. With that being said, I had many doubts and fears, like:

  • Will I be good enough dad?
  • How do these new responsibilities affect us as a couple?
  • How do our finances play out?
  • Challenges at work with co-workers and boss with me taking time off.

Although I had quite a few doubts, I wanted to believe that eventually we will figure them out.

And we did. I did something a lot of men in the United States only dream of – I stayed home with my wife and our baby! I’d arranged a full month of leave after her birth. It definitely wasn’t welcomed, but in the end agreed upon.

By the time our daughter arrived, I was a changed man – all I could think about was how I wouldn’t want to miss a beat: her doctor’s visits, her first smile, her first bath, even changing her diaper. I wanted to be a part of it.

Staying home the first four weeks of our baby’s life was the best thing I could have imagined.

Were these four weeks a breeze? Absolutely not!

Would I do it again if I was in the same situation? In a heartbeat!

In fact, I don’t think one month leave was nearly enough to get the full benefit from it. When most western countries have two week paternity leave, I feel that the real parenting starts after that.

Source: http://www.brandnewfather.com/paternity-leave/

How oxytocin makes a mom: Hormone teaches maternal brain to respond to offspring's needs

Neuroscientists have discovered how the powerful brain hormone oxytocin acts on individual brain cells to prompt specific social behaviors -- findings that could lead to a better understanding of how oxytocin and other hormones could be used to treat behavioral problems resulting from disease or trauma to the brain.

Neuroscientists at NYU Langone Medical Center have discovered how the powerful brain hormone oxytocin acts on individual brain cells to prompt specific social behaviors -- findings that could lead to a better understanding of how oxytocin and other hormones could be used to treat behavioral problems resulting from disease or trauma to the brain. The findings are to be published in the journal Nature online April 15.

Until now, researchers say oxytocin -- sometimes called the "pleasure hormone" -- has been better known for its role in inducing sexual attraction and orgasm, regulating breast feeding and promoting maternal-infant bonding. But its precise levers for controlling social behaviors were not known.

"Our findings redefine oxytocin as something completely different from a 'love drug,' but more as an amplifier and suppressor of neural signals in the brain," says study senior investigator Robert Froemke, PhD, an assistant professor at NYU Langone and its Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine. "We found that oxytocin turns up the volume of social information processed in the brain. This suggests that it could one day be used to treat social anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, speech and language disorders, and even psychological issues stemming from child abuse."

In experiments in mice, Dr. Froemke and his team mapped oxytocin to unique receptor cells in the left side of the brain's cortex. They found that the hormone controls the volume of "social information" processed by individual neurons, curbing so-called excitatory or inhibitory signals -- and immediately determining how female mice with pups responded to cries for help and attention.

In separate experiments in adult female mice with no pups -- and hence no experience with elevated oxytocin levels -- adding extra oxytocin into their "virgin" brains led these mice to quickly recognize the barely audible distress calls of another mother's pups recently removed from their home nest. These adult mice quickly learned to set about fetching the pups, picking them up by the scruffs of their necks and returning them to the nest -- all as if they were the pups' real mother.

This learned behavior was permanent, researchers say; the mice with no offspring continued to retrieve pups even when their oxytocin receptors were later blocked.

According to lead study investigator Bianca Marlin, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow at NYU Langone: "It was remarkable to watch how adding oxytocin shifted animal behavior, as mice that didn't know how to perform a social task could suddenly do it perfectly."

Key to the researchers' efforts to track oxytocin at work in individual brain cells was use of an antibody developed at NYU Langone that specifically binds to oxytocin-receptor proteins on each neuron, allowing the cells to be seen with a microscope.

"Our future research includes further experiments to understand the natural conditions, beyond childbirth, under which oxytocin is released in the brain," Dr. Froemke adds.

Funding support for the study was provided by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and the National Institute of Mental Health, both members of the National Institutes of Health. Corresponding grant numbers are DC009635, DC12557, and T32 MH019524. Additional funding was provided by McKnight and Pew scholarships; Sloan and NYU-Whitehead research fellowships; and a Skirball Institute collaborative research award.

Other researchers involved in the study, conducted entirely at NYU Langone, were Mariela Mitre, BE; James D'amour, BSc; and Moses Chao, PhD, whose laboratory developed the oxytocin receptor antibody used to track hormone activity.

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150415133158.htm