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August 29, 2007
Mothers' Baby Cradling Habits a Sign of High Stress
Read more... Schizophrenia Causes, Risk Factors & Prevention
As we've covered in past news items - children's brains are extremely sensitive to stress - and ongoing or frequent stress during early childhood is now believed by researchers to be an important contributor to mental illness.
Today a new study done at Durham University in the UK was announced that new mothers who cradle their baby to their right hand side are displaying signs of extreme stress. This seems like it might be one thing to watch for as a potential indicator of stress in new mothers - but of course this is only one study, and additional studies need to be done to verify these results. If someone feels that they might be stressed - we recommend they review this list of signs and symptoms of stress, and read the following page on how to reduce the stress.
Although most mums feel stressed in the early stages of their baby’s life, the study by Durham University researchers suggests their baby cradling habits are a key indicator of whether this stress could become overwhelming and lead to depression.
Previous research has already shown that the majority of mothers prefer to cradle their baby to their left regardless of whether they are left or right handed.
As at least one in ten women develop post-natal depression, studying non-verbal cues such as baby cradling could potentially help doctors and health visitors identify which mothers are in need of extra professional support before it gets too late.
Experts say that stress in new mothers can lead to depression which can have a detrimental effect on their baby’s mental development and wellbeing.
The study, published in the on-line version of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, studied 79 new mothers and their babies, who were an average age of seven months.
In their own homes, mothers were asked to pick up their babies and cradle them in their arm. They also completed a survey which quizzed them on their mental state. The research methodology established there was no link between cradling side and left or right handedness.
The study found that of the mothers who expressed no signs of stress or depression in the survey, 86 per cent preferred to hold their babies to the left. However, cradling babies to the right was more prominent among stressed mums with 32 per cent showing a right-sided bias.
Lead author Dr Nadja Reissland, a senior lecturer with Durham University’s Department of Psychology, explained why early detection of stress is vital: “Many mothers don’t realize they are suffering from stress, or don’t want to admit they are. The way they interact with their child is usually the best indicator of their inner mental state.
“Mums who are stressed often see what their baby does as negative so they may interpret their baby’s crying as being naughty, when in fact this is normal behaviour. They may even feel the baby is stopping them from living the life they really want to live.
“These sorts of feelings can have a huge impact on the relationship between mother and baby and on the family as a whole. If this stress develops into depression, then the situation can be even worse.”
The research team is following up this pilot study with another study looking at cradling side in a before and after situation with mothers taking their babies for their first vaccinations.
The study was funded by the Children’s Research Fund.
Posted by szadmin at August 29, 2007 08:16 AM
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