Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Stress is the Norm for New Mothers

In the year before they give birth, 71 percent of new mothers experience what the CDC calls a "stressful life event." The government defines 13 types of stressful life events and categorizes them into four types: financial (moved to a new address, lost job, partner lost job, unable to pay bills); emotional (family member ill and hospitalized, someone close died); partner-associated (separation/divorce, argue more than usual with partner/husband, husband/partner said he did not want pregnancy); and traumatic (homeless, involved in physical fight, partner went to jail, someone close had a problem with drinking/drugs).

The average new mother experiences 1.8 stressful life events in the year before her infants' birth. The 51 percent majority experiences a financial stressor, 30 percent an emotional stressor, 29 percent a partner-associated stressor, and 18 percent a traumatic stressor. Most women are vulnerable to stressful life events, but some are more vulnerable than others. Fully 80 percent of new mothers under age 25, for example, experienced one or more stressors compared with a smaller but still substantial 63 percent of new mothers aged 30 or older. Among the least educated, 76 percent experienced a stressor. Among the best-educated, the figure was 60 percent.

Source: CDC, Stressful Life Events Experienced by Women in the Year Before Their Infants' Births—United States, 2000-2010

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