Prenatal stress and its effects later in life
When my mom was pregnant she was under a lot of stress. She had just found out she was pregnant, she had three other children and my father was having an affair. She spent the majority of her pregnancy with me anxious and has since blamed my own anxiety on that. Unfortunately bringing a baby into this world isn’t always the joyous event it should be. Domestic violence, poverty, and lack of familial support are only a few on a long list of things that can exacerbate the stress placed on a mother during her pregnancy. These women often live with heightened emotions of anxiety and fear. Is there a direct line of transmission that takes these emotions and hands them off to the child, therefore setting the child up for a future riddled with the same fear and anxiety? Breathe easy mamas because a study conducted at UC Davis says that prenatal stress may not be so bad after all, depending of course on how they are raised after they pop out. According to Sarah Hartman a recent Ph.D. graduate at UC Davis the belief that prenatal stressors experienced in situations like domestic violence can cause behavioral issues to develop may not be the case. More often than not the stressor experienced prenatally are experienced postnatally as well. Domestic violence and poverty just don’t disappear. Because there is a continuation of stress it comes down to how supportive the upbringing is. Children who may be more emotional and reactive to their environment can progress better when they are raised in a supportive home. So know that if you are going through alot and your stress levels are through the roof while you are pregnant it matters less to your baby than the way you raise them. Give them the loving, supportive home you want to and that stress and anxiety will work itself out. Personally, my postnatal home held its own perils. My father was still upset that he had to give up his affair to return to family life and my mother was doing her best to keep me quiet and out of the way. Did I turn out to be emotional and reactive to my environment? Absolutely. Was it due to my upbringing, not necessarily. I am bipolar and have depression and anxiety. My brain is chemically altered to no fault of my parents or my own. I cannot change how I was raised nor can I resent my parents for it. A therapist once told me that my parents did the best with what they had at the time they had it. I have consciously chosen to never have children of my own, not because of the scars left from my past but for the growth of my own future. As I grow I hope others can learn from and with me. When I was an elementary school child my mother was told I was socially inept, slow and would likely not amount to anything at all. I was that child struggling through her upbringing due to continued stress and lack of support. I beat the odds, as many of us tough cookies do, and am now writing to a growing audience of three!