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5 Scientific Reasons to Embrace Parenthood

You’ve heard the sentimental stuff about how having kids will change your life, but did you know that there are actual scientific benefits to lengthening your family tree? If you’re contemplating parenthood, here are just five reasons to give it a shot.

1. You’ll live longer.

It’s a common joke that kids will give you gray hairs, but according to science, having children can actually increase your lifespan. After researchers in Sweden looked at the mortality rates of both parents and non-parents, they concluded that non-parents died 1–2 years earlier than their counterparts. The exact reasons for this are unknown, but it’s suggested that having adult children around in your old age can reduce stress levels and keep you on top of health concerns. If you answer to no one, you’re more likely to blow off those heart flutters than if you have your kids insisting that you go to the doctor.

2. You’ll have a stronger support network as you age.

Speaking of adult children, they’ll be great for your emotional health as a senior citizen. A social survey in 2012 found that women of a certain age were twice as likely to talk to their daughters than their husbands. Even better, it didn’t matter if the children were biological, adopted or conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF treatment); as long as the parent-child bond existed, it was a boost to the elderly person’s psychological state. So don’t fret if you’re having fertility issues. You can take many different routes to parenthood to enjoy the same benefits once you arrive there.

3. Breastfeeding is good for the brain.

Studies have shown that breastfeeding releases oxytocin in the brain. Oxytocin is a hormone linked to things like happier moods, lower blood pressure and a decreased response to anxiety and stress. Coupled with the general feeling of wellness and contentedness between a mother and child during the act of nursing, this means that moms have a scientific reason for that “blissed out” feeling before and after breastfeeding. It isn’t in their imaginations; it’s actual brain chemistry at work.

4. You can shape a brand-new human.

Humans are hardwired to produce children, but what few people realize is just how much of themselves that they’re passing on to their children. It goes far beyond superficial similarities and deep down into the genes. For example, the kind of food that you eat during your pregnancy can have an impact on your future child’s cells and proteins. The strength of your bond with your toddler can impact how many friends they’re capable of making when they go off to pre-school. It can be daunting to realize just how much you’ll be responsible for shaping and forming this brand-new human being, but it can be pretty exciting, too.

5. It will strengthen your body.

When a woman becomes pregnant, some of the fetus’s cells will travel through her bloodstream and into her brain. While this might sound like something out of a horror movie, it’s actually a completely normal biological process that might just benefit your health in the long run. It’s believed that fetal cells act like stem cells in the body. They can repair damaged tissue, ward off potential diseases and even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. They’re useful little fighters that you’ll carry around for the rest of your life, so in a way, your children will give back to you before they even leave the womb.

These are just a few scientific ways that having children can help you lead a longer, happier life. If you’re thinking about putting a bun in the oven, put these benefits in the “pro” column as you start to plan the next chapter of your life.

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