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New Study Suggests Link Between Pregnancy Stress And Gender Of The Baby

by | October 21, 2019

A new study has suggested a link between the level of physical and mental stress experienced during pregnancy and the gender of the baby.

The findings have shown that being stressed can make it less likely that the baby will be a boy, and that mental stress is more likely to cause complications during labor than physical stress is. High stress levels during pregnancy have also been linked to an increased risk of premature birth.

Among the women who participated in the study, those with high blood pressure, and other indicators of being physically stressed birthed four boys for every nine girls. The women who were mentally stressed birthed two boys for every three girls.  

Catherine Monk, the director of women’s mental health in OB/GYN at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, has explained that “males are more vulnerable in utero, and presumably the stress in these women is of a long-standing nature.”

Drinking juice during pregnancy appears free of stress
Rest is incredibly important during pregnancy (Source: Syda Productions / Shutterstock.com)

Social and Emotional Support

The amount of social and emotional support that a pregnant woman receives has been shown to greatly reduce her chance of a premature birth, whilst also increasing her chances of having a boy.

Monk explained that this support can come from a number of places and that “It’s the sense of social cohesion and social connectedness which research suggests is a buffer against the experiences of stress. It means you take a break from it.”

Stress Hormones and Pregnancy

Although this recent study hasn’t explored fully why stress can influence the gender of the baby, many experts are looking at cortisol as the culprit.

Cortisol is released by the adrenal glands to help the body respond to stress. When a person experiences prolonged stressful situations, then cortisol levels can remain high. This can then impact blood pressure and compromise the immune system. 

Past research has shown that pregnant women who are under pressure are likely to have excess levels of cortisol, and this hormone was also then observed to be present in their babies amniotic fluid.

Laura Berman, assistant clinical professor of OB/GYN and psychiatry at the Feinberg School of Medicine, has said that “Being stressed while expecting can increase a woman’s chance of postpartum depression.”

Berman has suggested that mothers-to-be may relieve the risk of depression with meditation, saying “Unlike exercise, which can be difficult for moms who are very far along in their pregnancy, meditation works for every stage of pregnancy and every size of woman.”

What do you think of these new findings? Let us know in the comments below!


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