Thursday, August 17, 2006

Love The One You're With

From today's NY Times:

Women who feel anxious during pregnancy should not worry that their feelings will affect their babies, a new report suggests.

The report, a review of 50 studies, found no significant associations between feeling anxious and negative outcomes in pregnancy or birth. The findings are online now and will be printed in a future issue of The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
There are hypothetical reasons to suspect that stress in pregnancy might harm the baby. Anxiety might lead to unhealthy behavior like smoking or drinking alcohol, increase stress hormones that could limit uterine blood flow or cause changes in immunological function that could bring on preterm labor or the high blood pressure and excessive swelling of pre-eclampsia.
But the researchers found little evidence for any of these effects in the data from all the studies. Anxiety was not associated with any of the negative pregnancy outcomes examined: length of labor; birth weight; use of analgesia during labor, which can indicate great pain; gestational age at birth; or the Apgar score that rates the general health of a newborn.
The authors acknowledged that they had looked only at these five negative outcomes and that there might be others they did not examine. In addition, the studies they covered recorded only anxiety symptoms, not psychiatric diagnoses like panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder.
Still, said Heather L. Littleton, the lead author and now an assistant professor of psychology at Sam Houston State University, “If a woman is experiencing increased anxiety in general or in relation to pregnancy or parenting issues, that worry alone is unlikely to have an impact on the health of her baby.”

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Well - that's good to know!

My sister and I have been laughing over the dispositions of our respective children vs. our own. Leslie is calm, irritatingly zen-like, and was throughout her whole pregnancy. Dubbed a "cold fish", she shuns physical expressions of affection (except from her husband), opting instead for meaningful yet somewhat distant forms of love and adoration. Her son, on the other hand, is happy only if nestled tightly in someone's bosom, screaming bloody murder if you dare place him down in his bassinet or even hold him a bit more loosely. I, on the other hand, am a crazy co-dependant, known for arm tickles with friends, hair stroking of loved ones and the need to be intwined in my husband whenever possible. I need kisses and hugs. I have cuddled friends of the same sex. My daughter, however, was a baby who never cried, who nuzzled only as long as a nursing session, and now that she is weaned, darts away playfully when I desperately cling to her soft ever-fleeing form. She does not look back in even brand-new social situations, and will only re-appear for milk or Cheerios. My sister claimed yesterday that after witnessing a year of what she dubbed my "Joey Parenting" (my need to carry Chloe close to my chest at every moment) she is amazed at the independant toddler I now have.

And yet neither of us would want it any other way. Ok, maybe I would like a few more fragrant post-bathtime kisses, but when she waves goodbye to me each morning, non-plussed and entranced with her nanny, I am happy that she can stand on her own.

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