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What happens to the brain when you become a mother?

May 12 is Mother's Day in many countries. Becoming a mother is no mean feat: brain scientist Elseline Hoekzema has shown that a woman's brain changes drastically during pregnancy. She explained how in TV show De Kennis van Nu.

‘It’s like a tsunami of hormones sweeping through a woman’s body during pregnancy,’ says Elseline Hoekzema in the programme. And all these hormones have a significant, lasting effect on a mother’s brain. Its anatomy changes, and this effect is visible even two years after the pregnancy.

Watch the episode on ‘Mom brain’ (in Dutch)

In this episode of De Kennis Van Nu (broadcast on 6 February 2019) presenters Diederik Jekel and Elisabeth van Nimwegen investigate what happens to the brains of new parents. Leiden brain researcher Elseline Hoekzema shows how a mother’s brain changes drastically during pregnancy, and neuroendocrinologist Peter Bos explains how fathers are not let off the hook either: in them the carer’s brain is activated. Professor of Clinical Child and Family Studies Marian Bakermans is researching whether more skin-on-skin contact triggers the release of ‘cuddle hormones’. Aaf Brandt Corstius, Leonie ter Braak, Sofie van den End and Lucas van de Meerendonk talk about the big changes they underwent when they became parents.

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