Eating well, getting enough rest and making sure your unborn baby is healthy are just some of the worries moms-to-be have during their pregnancies.
However, another factor can cause more stress on an unborn baby than previously thought: money. After all, the average cost to raise a child from birth to the age of 18 was $233,610 in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available.
Researchers at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center asked pregnant women how they’d be able to live on their current annual household income with approaching medical, household and all other expenses that related to the new baby.
"We found that the more stress a woman reported, the greater the likelihood that she would have a baby of low birth weight,” Amanda Mitchell, the study’s lead author and researcher, told WISC-TV.
Babies with low birth weight are more prone to a lifetime of health issues, including respiratory and digestive problems. They’re also at a higher risk for obesity and heart disease as they age.
Income level also didn’t have a bearing on stress levels. Principal investigator of the study, Lisa Christian, said it was actually the perception of a mom’s ability to not be able to meet her expenses.
Experts say that women who feel overwhelmed by the thought of not having enough money should create a financial plan. They should also rely on friends and family for support, maybe join a support group with other new moms, and do some sort of physical activity to keep stress at bay.
Christian added, “It is normal to feel financial strain during pregnancy, and there is a wealth of resources available to help."