By Ryan Velez
Pregnancy is a rough time for an expecting mother, from health concerns regarding the child to how the actual delivery will go to how they will be as a mother. This is to say nothing of the significant financial weight of bringing a child into the world. Black Enterprise reports that this financial concern is growing with mothers of all stripes—and it could potentially be harming themselves and their children’s health.
The results came from a study done at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tracking 138 racially diverse women over the course of two years. Throughout the study, a correlation was found between stress while expecting and delivering a baby with low birth weight. Defined as below 5 pounds and 8 ounces, low birth weight can lead to health problems, some of which require weeks for the baby in intensive care delivery. It has also been linked to health issues later in life, including respiratory and digestive problems as well as a higher risk for heart disease and obesity.
“To gauge their level of financial strain, we asked pregnant women questions about how difficult it would be to live on their annual household income in the coming weeks,” said Amanda Mitchell, lead author of the study and researcher at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, in a press release. “We found that the more stress a woman reported, the greater the likelihood that she would have a baby of low birth weight.” Financial issues mentioned in the study included working after the baby’s birth, costs of healthcare and housing, and overall effects on the standard of living.
Interestingly, financial standing didn’t have much effect on the degree of stress. “We found that high-stress levels were present across all income levels,” said Lisa Christian, principal investigator of the study, in a press release. “It wasn’t just how much money someone had available that was driving this effect. It was actually the perception of her ability to meet her expenses.” While the study authors suggest using professional help or techniques like meditation to lower their stress levels, this must also be balanced with financial planning. Certain things may be out of your control, but it is important to take a handle on what is.