Scent of a Mother

People often choose fragrance as a gift to celebrate Mother’s Day as a way to say thank you but did you know, it is also a subconscious way of reinforcing the importance of scent in the development of the bond between a mother and her child.

According to ethologists, pheromones, the aromatic substances released by certain glands in our bodies, play a fundamental role in non-verbal communications, even in the human species. A mother’s body odours are important signals for a child's sense of security and social recognition. 

This happens during the development of the extremely intense bond that exists between a mother and her child. From the very moment they meet, the mother sniffs the child whilst cuddling, bringing her head close to the infant’s neck and head.

The child does the same, becoming inebriated on the mother’s scent while cuddling her neck and bosom, immediately making the connection with a sensation of safety, well-being and contentedness.

Babies begin developing their sense of smell long before they enter the world. A baby’s ability to smell begins in the womb, when they can smell the amniotic fluid. When a baby is just a few days old, it can differentiate between its mother’s scent and that of a stranger. Both the mother’s breast milk and her body odour have unique scents that attract her baby. The smell of a mother’s milk is known to have a calming effect on newborns. A baby’s sense of smell is vital to their survival, especially during the newborn months.

To narrate the connection between mothers and scents, in all of its deepest implications, it is sufficient to read the two pages of Lev Tolstoj’s childhood memories. Through an intimate and delicate writing style, the author recalls in a very touching passage how his already sick mother would pick him up, indelibly connecting her scent and her warmth to the sentence “Never forget me”.

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