Stress And Pregnancy: Impact On Infants Mental Health Examined

Giving birth to a child is said to be one of the most amazing parts of a woman’s life, as well as her partner. It is a natural part of life that allows a new human being to develop and enter the world. While it becomes second nature for women who have already experienced giving birth and being pregnant in the past, many new soon-to-be-moms are not aware of how their well-being can affect the wellbeing and health of their child. Almost everything a pregnant woman does will have some level of impact on the child’s development, and different actions will have different effects. If a pregnant woman does not take care of herself while pregnant, this affects her well-being has on the fetus that is developing inside of her might even have long-lasting effects on the unborn child – even after the child is born.

There are many different ways in which a pregnant woman can ensure her pregnancy goes as planned and nothing goes wrong. Monitoring the pregnancy week by week is one of the most important tasks a woman who is pregnant can do. By monitoring her pregnancy, she will be able to determine if anything goes wrong with the developing child at any early stage and be able to take care of the problem before it creates a permanent effect on the child.

Pregnancy And Stress Statistics

While pregnancy can be an amazing experience for a woman, especially if it is the first pregnancy, it can also be very stressful. Due to the hormonal changes that a woman frequently experiences while pregnant, simple stressful events could feel like mountains. The United States Department of Health reports that as much as 42% of pregnant women experience stressful events while carrying their baby to term. They go on to report that the majority of these stressful events are experienced by non-Hispanic Asians, followed by non-Hispanic whites and Hispanic women. They also released data concerning the most common stressful events pregnant women in the United States experience:

  • Up to 33.7% of pregnant women who report they have experienced a stressful event during their pregnancy report that the event was caused because they had to move to a new location.
  • Up to 24.7% of pregnant women who report they have experienced a stressful event during their pregnancy report that the event was caused by an unusual amount of arguments arising with their partner.
  • 9% report a serious illness befalling a family member, 22.7% reported financial problems, 17.2% reported the death of someone close to them.
  • Among the less frequently experienced stressful events, 4.4% reported their partner had to go to jail, 4.1% reported to be homeless, and 3.8% reported their mother was unhappy with their pregnancy.

The Effect Of Stress On The Child’s Mental Health

While symptoms such as morning sickness, back pain, and fatigue are often associated with pregnancy, we would like to turn our focus towards the effects stress can have on pregnancy. Recent studies have started to look at the effects stress during pregnancy can have on the child’s mental health later in life, especially during their infant stage. St. John’s Research Institute recently collected a series of study reports to determine the effects stress during pregnancy has on an infant’s mental health. They were able to make several conclusions, including:

  • One study monitored the pregnancy of 147 healthy pregnant women and 147 pregnant women with high-stress levels. They found that babies born to the women who were exposed to higher levels of stress had a higher rate of babies born with a lower birth weight. It is reported that a low birth weight can develop into a series of problematic conditions including sleep apnea, jaundice, anemia, infections and even problems with the child’s neurological development.
  • Another study provided evidence that women who are exposed to excessive levels of stress are at higher risk of giving birth preterm. Mayo Clinic reports that preterm birth may lead to breathing problems as well as a risk of heart problems in the premature baby. They also report that there is a risk of brain problems, including bleeding which may lead to permanent damage.
  • A cohort study that involved a large number of participants provided evidence that stress levels and depression during pregnancy may lead to difficult temperament in the child after the child has been born. They also report that this effect seems to last for as much as 24 months after the child’s birth.
  • Furthermore, they report that another study was able to provide evidence that psychological distress during pregnancy can have negative impacts on the child’s cognitive, behavior and emotional development in the future. The same study also reported that psychological distress during pregnancy could significantly impact the child’s growth during his infant years.

Child Encyclopedia explains that numerous studies have also found that when a woman experiences prenatal stress, the rate at which the child matures from their infancy stage is much slower when compared to women who did not experience a significant level of prenatal stress. Furthermore, they explain that studies have also found a reduction in attention levels in these children. They go on to explain that it is important to realize that some of the studies conducted to monitor the mental health of children whose mother experienced prenatal stress have provided opposite results – with enhanced behavioral maturation and faster neural development. Thus it is important for further studies to be completed to provide more specific results on every individual issue.


Being pregnant, especially for the first time, comes with a lot of responsibilities. It is the duty of the pregnant woman to ensure she knows about the possible complications her health may have on her unborn child. By monitoring her pregnancy and ensuring she leads a healthy, stress-free lifestyle, she can also improve the wellbeing of the growing fetus and even ensure healthy mental development in the child’s life after they are born.

Also watch video on: How to Take Care of Your Newborn?

Sophie Addison

Sophie Addison is a popular blogger and skincare expert. She is very passionate about writing on skincare and beauty. She is an active contributor of many health and lifestyle blogs including glozine lifestyle. She has posted articles on tips for fine lines and wrinkles, best eye creams, weight loss and fitness news. Apart from work she likes gardening and listening music. You can also contact her on Facebook, and Pinterest.

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