Did you know that during childbirth the human female has the strength of 19 silverback gorillas? Okay, that's not precisely true. At least, there are no scientific journals reporting this. Yet... I mean it certainly feels true, no? Honestly, there are so many random facts about moms and motherhood that you'll learn once you have a kid, I wouldn't be completely shocked if sudden gorilla-level strength were one of them. (It's not.)
The point is, motherhood ushers in a world of so many new, interesting, and totally bizarro facts you never knew before. You are welcomed into an entire world of information, where you'll be forced to absorb knowledge on everything from mucus plugs (would still like to erase that term from my brain) to the origins of baby names (wait, the name Kennedy means "ugly head?") to how to open the door of Starbucks when pushing a stroller (you back in first ladies, always back in first... ).
Below, I've rounded up a few of the more fascinating little tidbits about moms and motherhood: a little something for you to read tonight over your child's head, after she falls asleep, and you are too tired to get up and into your own bed. It's a mix of fascinating scientific studies and Leo DiCaprio. So, a must-read, basically.
But don't stay up too late! There's new research that says mothers who spend too much time on their iPhone regrow their hymen. (Okay there isn't. But again, I bet it's coming! Because everything that is relaxing is bad for you, isn't it?)
1. Lactating moms are fierce.
I mean yes, of course nursing moms are fierce, because they’ve dealt with the exquisite pain that is scabbed, bleeding nipples. But they are actually kind of fierce in another sense, too: Apparently women who nurse are more aggressive when it comes to protecting their child. Psychological Science says women who are breastfeeding have lower blood pressure, which can lower the body’s typical response to stress and fear. So mom feels braver, therefore making her more inclined to want to claw your eyes out should you look at her kid the wrong way. It’s called “maternal defense”, and I so wish I’d had this as an excuse back when I was nursing. It might have explained that time I full on screamed at my husband to just “get out” when he bought me the wrong Keurig pods. #itwasmaternaldefensehoney #isaidfrenchroast
2. Leonardo DiCaprio’s mom came up with his name while looking at a Leonardo da Vinci painting.
It’s true, according to Vanity Fair: Leo’s mom was in the Uffizi Gallery in Italy, gazing up at a da Vinci painting when she felt the future Jack Dawson kick. So I suppose it’s good she wasn’t staring at Paul Gauguin’s “The Green Christ”. Not sure if Green Christ DiCaprio would have had as illustrious a film career? A career as a rocker, perhaps. Actually wouldn’t that be kind of rad if that was the way we selected names? If you had to christen your child after whatever you were staring at when you felt the first kick? My child would be little Dagstorp… after our IKEA sofa.
3. Moms hold babies on the left so their brains can help them bond.
As reported by ScaryMommy, research has found that between 70-85 percent of moms hold their kids on the left. While you might think, “well, duh, because they’re right-handed,” that’s actually not the case, as left-handed women do this as well. (I’m a lefty and I heavily favored holding my kid on the left, even though it meant I had to wonkily do things with my right hand.) The reason? The right side of the brain receives signals from the left side of the body, and the right side of the brain is also the side that helps with emotional bonding and focus. So when you hold your bebe on the left, it’s believed that its actually helping you to bond. Even weirder? Apparently this instinct shows up really young, as even little girls have been shown to favor holding their dolls on the left.
4. There was a woman in Russia who (supposedly) gave birth to 69 children.
While this sounds improbable (and has been disputed), the Guinness Book of World Records insists that it has the sources to back this insanity up. The woman was a Russian peasant who lived during the 1700s, and according to Guinness she gave birth to “sixteen pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets.” I’d tell you her name but it was “lost to history.” (I’d tell you her husband’s name, except who cares? He isn’t the one who pushed out sixty-nine children, is he?)
Again, it seems difficult to believe this could be true, given the infant mortality rates of the 18th century. But it’s still kind of fun to think about, no? Like, what did bath time consist of? Just a firehose aimed at the house? And do you think numbers 43-69 just fell out whenever she bent to tie her shoes?
5. A mother and child can literally sync up their heartbeats with a single look.
The journal Infant Behavior and Development showed how moms and babies actually sync their heartbeats within milliseconds of each other, simply by gazing into each other's eyes. In the study, moms and their babies had their hearts monitored during "face-to-face interactions." And the data showed that their heart rhythms coordinated "within lags of less than 1 second."
I'm guessing most moms will feel surprised by this, and also not surprised in the least. We all know those little guys have our hearts.