The smell lingers in your nostrils. You crave it. You want to breathe it in like an aromatic drug.
It’s that new baby smell.
A recent study conducted by the University of Montreal’s Department of Psychology, found that new mothers may in fact be addicted to the scent of a newborn.
The researchers tested newborn smells on 30 women. Half of the women had given birth three to six weeks before the experiment, and the other women did not have children. The smells were collected from pajamas that newborns were wearing two days after birth, and none of the babies belonged to the mothers in the experiment.
The women were asked to breathe in the odor. While both groups of women said they liked the smell, there was more activity in the “dopaminergic system of the caudate nucleus” of the brain in the new mothers. This area, which is located at the center of the brain, is responsible for reward processing and releases dopamine, a chemical messenger that encourages reward-motivated behaviors.
In simpler terms, this means that new moms craved the newborn smell like it was a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie.
The study also found that people who have never had children were less likely to have the same reaction.
Biology is really an amazing thing.
Kendra Whisenhunt, a 36-year-old Bellevue teacher, admits to smelling her 4-week-old daughter, Kaleah, quite often. She thought her attraction to her newborn’s scent was the type of lotion she wore.
“I absorb every ounce I can of her — whether it’s touching, looking, or smelling her. I can’t get enough,” said Whisenhunt, who has two older daughters ages 2 and 13.
Omahan Jess Allen, a first-time mom, loves the way her 3-month-old Jada smells.
The 34-year-old personal trainer said her daughter’s scent reminds her of how much her life has changed — from the increased responsibility, lack of sleep, new body and protective love she has for this little being.
Although her daughter’s scent is intoxicating, she isn’t ready for another newborn.
As children get older, the study noted that the desire for the newborn smell often diminishes.
Omahan Holly Kudrna, 37 and a mom to a 14-year-old, said she never had the urge to pick up a baby and smell him or her. She’d rather admire the child’s little feet and toes.
As for me, two years ago, the scent of a baby filled me with a feeling of euphoria. But I’d rather take the sweet scent of a crumbly apple pie or a delectable chocolate brownie any day.
But don’t judge me if I’m ever handed a baby to hold and you catch me sniffing his or her neck or forehead.
I can’t help it. It’s biology.
Jen Schneider is a middle school teacher and mom to two children.
Read her blogs every Tuesday on momaha.com
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