The antenatal period is a crucial period for the neurodevelopment of the baby inside the mothers womb. If the mother is exposed to excessive stress, anxiety or past trauma, it can impact both birth outcomes as well as emotional-behavioural aspects of the baby.
Psychological disturbances of mothers-to-be can impact their fertility. It is thus important for fertility clinics to assess their patients wellness and address any low mood or depression.
Distress during pregnancy is associated with inadequate antenatal self-care, low-birth weight and preterm delivery. This is well documented now.
After birth, depression or low mood can result in diminished emotional involvement, neglect and even some hostility towards the newborn. It is important to be supportive to the mother and not blame her for her low mood. If the mother is not getting enough sleep and/or is suffering from postpartum depression, these difficulties will increase even more. The lower quality of bonding can impact emotional development well into the child's lifespan.
Research has thrown more light on the links between maternal mental health and offspring’s cognitive development through their lifespan. Neuro-motor developmental issues are another area of recent research linking it to maternal and paternal distress.
The risks are not insurmountable and the negative outcomes to the child are not inevitable. It is Thunai's mission to create awareness about these risks and screenings and interventions so that we can ensure the future generations are given the best possible opportunity to flourish.