Behavior of Mothers of Precocial Offspring

These species are generally grazing prey animals and live in large social groups of several females with a male (e.g., horse) or matrilineal groups (e.g., sheep). Litters comprise one or two large (relative to the maternal body weight), well-developed, and mobile young. A specific birth site may be selected, sometimes remote from the social group, but nest building does not occur. Behaviors immediately following birth are usually directed toward recognition of their individual offspring and formation of a social bond between mother and young. Delivery of the young is quick and frequently followed by a period of intense maternal licking (Fig. 1), when the mother forms an olfactory memory of her offspring. Social prey species often breed seasonally, thus all the young are born within a short period. This behavior allows the dam to reliably recognize her own young among other similar young within the group.

Within this class of maternal behavior there are two main maternal strategies, termed hiders and followers.[1] Follower species (e.g., horse, sheep) are accompanied by their offspring from birth, are seldom more than a few meters from their young, and show frequent sucking bouts. Both partners show intense distress on separation. Hider species (e.g., cattle, deer), following birth and initial licking of the young, leave the young concealed and the mother rejoins the social group. Mothers return to their young to suckle on a few occasions during the day and maintain large spatial distances from their offspring. The young animals eventually join the social group with their mothers but still maintain large mother young distances,

Time since lamb birth

Fig. 1 Average amount of time spent licking lambs by maternal ewes in a four hour period after the birth of the lamb (lamb born at time zero). Intense licking occurs in the first hour after delivery (ewes spent 38 minutes of the first hour licking the lamb), but ewes are still spending some time licking the lamb four hours after birth. (From C. M. Dwyer, drawn from unpublished data.) (View this art in color at www.dekker.com.)

Time since lamb birth

Fig. 1 Average amount of time spent licking lambs by maternal ewes in a four hour period after the birth of the lamb (lamb born at time zero). Intense licking occurs in the first hour after delivery (ewes spent 38 minutes of the first hour licking the lamb), but ewes are still spending some time licking the lamb four hours after birth. (From C. M. Dwyer, drawn from unpublished data.) (View this art in color at www.dekker.com.)

forming peer groups with similarly aged calves sometimes as a creche under the supervision of a single mother.

Getting Back Into Shape After The Pregnancy

Getting Back Into Shape After The Pregnancy

Once your pregnancy is over and done with, your baby is happily in your arms, and youre headed back home from the hospital, youll begin to realize that things have only just begun. Over the next few days, weeks, and months, youre going to increasingly notice that your entire life has changed in more ways than you could ever imagine.

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