When Mother Is Depressed, Baby Pays the Price

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When Mother is Stressed or Depressed, Baby Pays the Price
by Sabriyya Abdur-Rauf
P
eople often think that infants are resilient and that at worst don’t remember what happens to them. Decades of research are showing that babies’ very early experiences can leave a lasting imprint. Postpartum depression is not just experienced by mothers but the impact on infants can be serious and long-lasting. We know that when women feel safe, secure and loved, cascades of love hormone (oxytocin) are released both during intimacy and birth. These love hormones flood the mother’s blood system and bathe the developing fetus. This is good news because it impacts the development of the pre-born infant’s brain readying it to experience love and happiness. Conversely, the release of fear and stress hormone (adrenaline) during intimacy and birth is a double assault on the newborn and can interrupt the actual architecture of his/her brain and impair infants’ healthy brain development. After birth, if babies do not have access to support from a caring adult, they can once again experience increases in their toxic stress load. When we consider that postpartum depression is now the most commonly found complication for the birthing mother, affecting about 12% of American women, we see that not only is this troubling for women’s health, but weighs heavily against the mother’s ability to be emotionally and physically available for her child. This bad effect on bonding goes both ways. The effect of PPD manifests in infants as their being less able to form attachments with their mothers. This has far-reaching implications and can lead to: * negative effect on the child’s well-being

* long-term child psychological problems and behavioral disorders in children ages 7-9 * impaired school readiness of children
* poor attachment to others including family, school and social relationships * decreased IQ, especially in male adolescents (22 IQ points lower than boys...
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