Are you stressing about how you'll afford to raise a baby? That stress may raise your baby's odds of being born at a low birth weight.
Raising children is expensive, so it's only natural to stress out about finances when you have a baby on the way. But according to a new study from the University of Ohio Wexner Medical Center, too much financial stress can affect your baby in a pretty scary way.
The researchers asked a group of 138 pregnant women questions to gauge their feelings on the financial aspects of parenting—and they found that the women who showed greater levels of stress over the issue were more likely to give birth to low birth weight babies.
The interesting part of these findings? The effect appeared to exist across all income levels—because no matter how much money a couple has, when you add another person (or a few more people!) into the mix, some strain is to be expected. But stressing out over your financial situation clearly does more harm than good: Low birth weight can set your baby up for health issues down the line (think respiratory and digestive issues, increased risk for obesity and diabetes).
But before you freak out about, well, freaking out, remember that this study observed a small group of women, and while the link between stress and low birthweight is something to keep in mind, being worried about your bottom line doesn't automatically mean your baby will be born at a low weight.
We believe the important takeaway here has more to do with the need for pregnant women to keep stress levels in check as much as possible (trust us, we know it's easier said than done!). Hit up prenatal yoga classes, chat with a therapist if you're feeling anxious, stay away from Google every time an icky symptom hits, and try as hard as you can do stop dwelling on every worry. If finances have you seriously stressed, it may be a good idea to sit down and put together a detailed plan for how you'll approach money management once you've had your baby.
“There is no reason to worry about things that are out of your control,” researcher Lisa Christian, PhD, said in a release for the news. “Instead, prepare for what you can change and create a financial plan. Reach out to friends and family for help, and find ways to reduce your anxiety like exercising or speaking with a psychiatrist. It is normal to feel financial strain during pregnancy, and there is a wealth of resources available to help.”