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Although many research studies focus on how to combat mental health problems associated with pregnancy and motherhood, there are some notable mental health benefits to being a mother.
Here are seven psychological benefits mothers can experience (although some are not limited to only mothers) in honor of the upcoming Mother’s Day on May 8, 2011. Some of these examples are from experts, others are from observation and input from friends and family.
1) Motherhood can lead to maturation for some women, said Barbara Holstein, a positive psychologist in New Jersey. Having to take care of someone else can lead to this maturation, and it’s a positive personal transformation. This maturation can also include becoming less self-absorbed and more giving to others.
2) Mothers can also have a chance to see their different strengths, said Holstein, an author of the book “The Truth: I’m a Girl, I’m Smart and I Know Everything.” These strengths include seeing how they can handle the stresses involved with pregnancy and motherhood, like juggling multiple responsibilities. The feeling after completing a challenge can be very inspiring.
3) “Having the chance to live with children and seeing a lot of the funny things they do and the developmental steps really heartens a person,” Holstein said. Seeing the wonders of life and the growth of children can contribute to happiness. She added that it’s important to have a good sense of humor. “If you’re going to raise sane children and you’re going to stay sane, you better have a really good sense of humor, and I think children promote that … because they’re funny.” She gave the example of a mother telling her young daughter not to play with the worms in the dirt because they’re dirty, so the daughter tried to clean them in the sink. “You just have to laugh,” Holstein said. As the saying goes, laughter is the best medicine.
4) A recent study found that “mothers who feed their babies breast milk exclusively, as opposed to formula, are more likely to bond emotionally with their child during the first few months after delivery,” according to a ScienceDaily article. They also responded more often to their infants’ cries.