Mamas on Bedrest: Take Care of Yourself Now To Better Care for Your Children Later

April 27th, 2011

I typically try to avoid topics that “implicate” a mama’s behavior as the cause of her child’s behavior. But I found this latest research so interesting that I thought that I’d share it. Also, in light of the “Living The Self Care Challenge” taking place next week, I found this article to be quite appropriate.

Women who experience repeated stressful events while pregnant are more likely to have children with behavioral problems

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.

Mother’s Day Self-Care Contest/Challenge  May 2-6, 2011

Stress is a natural part of all of  our lives and we all know the negative effects that stress can have on our everyday behavior. This study is one of the first that I have read showing that maternal stress during pregnancy can have longstanding effects on the child for years to come. And it’s not the more commonly assumed forms of stress such as depression or domestic violence. The stress can be subtle like worry about finances or a difficult boss.

This study underscores the importance of self care, especially during pregnancy. Women care for everyone around them. Even when they should be giving more focus to themselves and their needs during pregnancy, they are often more concerned with caring for their unborn babies. This study is a stark reminder of the long term effects unmanaged stress can have on a woman and her baby. Follow airline advice, “Put your own mask on before trying to assist others.”

In an effort to raise awareness about self care and the role it plays in abating or aborting the symptoms of post partum depression, Living Self Care is sponsoring a one week Self Care Challenge. From May 2-May 6th, women are challenged to engage in daily self care activities. Additionally, sponsors of the event (of which Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond is one!) will be offering prizes to participants. There will be daily blog posts on how to self care and tips and resources to enhance your self care efforts.

This is really worth giving a shot.  And to add another platitude, “You can’t give from an empty cup.” Fill yours next week!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *