Anxiety before pregnancy can lead to babies crying excessively

An interesting new study has found that stress and worry before pregnancy can cause women to give birth to children who cry for longer.

The journal Archives of Disease in Childhood published the study which looked at 300 women.

Those who had suffered from anxiety during pregnancy were more than twice as likely to find that their baby cried “excessively” it is reported.

As babies can pick up emotional cues very early on, it could be a variety of things that cause this excessive crying. A mother who is anxious may be less able to help calm a baby and regulate it’s crying because of their own emotional distress.

However, it could be something more biological, related to an increased release of stress hormones, such as cortisol during the pregnancy.

Starting with almost 300 women in the early stages of their pregnancy, the researchers interviewed them about their mindset and how stressed they were, and did so again at later stages in the pregnancy. They were then also asked questions about raising the child and its behaviour until the baby was 16 months old.

Ten per cent of those questioned reported that their child exhibited excessive levels of crying, and analysis showed that these women were significantly more likely to be the ones who suffered from anxiety.

However, asking the mothers whether a baby cries ‘for too long’ isn’t a completely reliable method. It could merely be that those mothers who are more anxious fear that their babies cry too much, as a reflection of their parenting, and interpret normal baby crying as being ‘excessive’. This is despite being given guidelines of ‘excessive crying’ being for more than three hours per day on more than three days per week over three weeks.

Pregnancy can be incredibly stressful, and if you are having trouble with anxiety, or are anxious about getting pregnant, don’t be afraid to seek aid or enrol on a stress management course.

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