Stress may be a regular occurance in your life, but that doesn't mean that it brings about positive side effects. It can harm you when you're not pregnant, when you are pregnant, and after you become a mom. Stress can even negatively impact your relationship with your child, depending on its source and how long its been there for. Now there's yet another reason to try and reduce the amount stress you have while you're pregnant.
A new study revealed that pregnant women who experienced "severe stress" were 10 times more likely to have a child who later develops a personality disorder. It's also been said that "moderate prolonged stress" can also have negatively affect a child's development after birth. This means that moderate to severe stress on a pregnant woman can cause her child to develop a personality disorder by the time they're 30 years old, or even before that.
A personality disorder was defined as someone whose personality contains certain aspects that make life difficult. Such examples include being anti-social, emotionally unstable, extremely anxious and/or paranoid. These can lead to more serious mental health issues such as addiction or depression. It's beleived personality disorders affect roughly one in 20 people, with brain problems and genetics determining whether you develop them or not.
For this study from the British Journal of Psychiatry, over 3600 women in Helskini, Finland were interviewed about their stress levels. The participants had to answer for whether they had "notable stress, some stress or no stress". The children from these women- who were born between 1975 to 1976- would also follow up on the matter. When they hit 30, notes were made for those diagnosed with a personality disorder. In total, 40 cases were noted, and all of them were deemed severe enough to require hospitalization.
The end result of the study concluded that high levels of prolonged stress during pregnancy may result in long-lasting effects on children. Specifically, children exposed to severe stress from their pregnant mother were 9.53 times more likely to develop a personality disorder. Furthermore, children exposed to moderate stress from their pregnant mother were four times more likely to develop a personality disorder. The stress such pregnant women dealt with includes psychological problems, relationship problems and/or social factors.
It's currently not known exactly how or why a pregnant woman's stress can raise the likelihood of their child developing a personality disorder. But what we do know is that reducing your stress during and after pregnancy is important. While you're pregnant, look for support at home and at work from whoever will provide it. You should also avoid smoking, eat well and get a lot of sleep. After your baby is born, you should continue to have a strong support group. Go to your doctor, health professional or midwife to check in on your mental health. If there's an issue, they may recommend that you go to therapy. Remember- a healthy mom will most likely lead to a healthy baby, and that's what matters most.