Dr. Monique Robinson, a psychologist at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Perth, Australia, and her colleagues analyzed data from nearly 3,000 pregnant women who reported stressful events at 18 and 34 weeks of pregnancy. Of those women, about 37 percent reported two or more stress events and nearly 8 percent reported six or more.
Money and relationship problems, job loss, issues with other children, a difficult pregnancy and a death in the family were among the stressful events cited by the women.
The behavior of the women’s children was assessed at ages 2, 5, 8, 10 and 14 years.
“What we have found is that it is the overall number of stresses that is most related to child behavior outcomes,” Robinson said in a news release from the institute. “Two or fewer stresses during pregnancy are not associated with poor child behavioral development, but as the number of stresses increase to three or more, then the risks of more difficult child behavior increase.”
The actual type of stress experienced was found to be less important than the number of stressful events. Whether the stresses occurred early or late in pregnancy did not influence risk, the study reported.
The findings were published online April 18 in Development and Psychopathology.
In light of this research, I am inviting you all to take part in the Self Care Challenge. Started by Dr. Diane Sanford, Ph.D., Co-author "Life Will Never Be the Same: The Real Mom's Postpartum Survival Guide." The Challenge is a week of tips and tools to help mamas take better care of themselves and subsequently take better care of their babies and families. If you or a woman you know is struggling as a mama, please send her over to the Self Care Challenge page or if she prefers a more personal consultation, firstname.lastname@example.org.