Mothers Who Experience Stress or Worry Before and During Pregnancy


“More likely to have babies who cry for longer”

According to the latest research, women who experience stress, worry or panic attacks before and/or during pregnancy are more than twice as likely to report that their babies cried “excessively.” Researchers reported that mothers suffering from anxiety may have a more “intrusive” parenting style that could cause babies to cry more. I’m not sure what “intrusive” means and it is not known conclusively why this link exists.

Experts suggest an infant’s excessive crying may be due to the mother’s production of stress hormones during pregnancy, which may cross the placenta and affect the development of a baby’s brain. They are calling for women who suffer from anxiety to be supported during early motherhood. 

A parenting specialist, Dr. Clare Bailey, said: “Mothers can easily get into a traumatic negative cycle when worrying about a newborn. The more they worry, the less they sleep and calm themselves, and the more they worry. Anxiety can make them hyper vigilant, distressed by crying, and they can feel rejected by their babies. It intuitively sounds likely that a calm mother who feels relaxed, comfortable and confident will be more likely to help a baby to self-settle. Babies can pick up emotional cues very early on.”

The research, published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, looked at nearly 300 women who were in the early stages of pregnancy. They were asked about their history of anxiety and depression, and were interviewed during their pregnancy and until their children were 16 months old. Ten percent of the women reported excessive crying following the birth. Further analysis found that babies born to women with an anxiety disorder were “significantly” more likely to cry for longer periods.

Dr. Harriet Hiscock, child health specialist from the University of Melbourne, warned that the role of the father also needed to be examined and cautioned against adding to “a mother’s day of worry by blaming her for her infant’s crying.”

It is possible for stress hormones to cross the placenta, and might contribute to an infant’s crying spells.

Infant Massage addresses this by:

1. Helping the baby’s gastrointestinal system mature

2. Addressing the baby’s (and a parent’s) need for close, loving contact

3. Helping parents feel empowered to help their infants feel secure, loved, and bonded to their parents

by Vimala McClure