Expectant mothers exposed to physical or mental stress have decreased odds of having a male baby and higher chances of preterm birth.
The study revealed that women who got through psychological stress during pregnancy gave birth to two boys for every three girls (ratio 2:3) while the mums-to-be who had signs of physical stress, as augmented blood pressure, gave birth to four boys for every nine girls (ration 4:9).
Previous research noticed this decline in male new-born after cataclysmic events, as the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City.
Another downside was that the mentally tense pregnant women faced more birth complications, like prolonged labour, while the physically pressured pregnant women were more likely to encounter premature deliveries.
Maternal Well-Being And Social Support
The research also provided a solution along with the many warnings: the importance of social support. The risks of preterm birth faded once the mothers felt they have someone to talk with or count on during pregnancy. They started build trust and confidence in their future as new mothers. Surprisingly, the more support was provided, the bigger the chances to have a boy.
Catherine Monk, lead author and director of women’s mental health in OB/GYN at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center adds:
The support could be from family and friends. It could be a sense of belonging in a religious community. It’s the sense of social cohesion and social connectedness which research suggests is a buffer against the experiences of stress. It means you take a break from it.
Stress is not something you can avoid, and that’s why is being classified in “good” stress – focused and highly motivating, and “toxic” stress – exhausting and overwhelming.
The mothers need to protect themselves from the toxic side of stress by adopting a sleep schedule, exercise habits and a diet rich in nutrients.
Monk advises the mothers at the beginning of the prenatal period to design a risk-free pregnancy and early stress management plans.