Calming the Most Deep-Seated Fear

A Simple Form of Hope: For Pregnancy and Beyond

Most research does show that prenatal depression and anxiety can have a negative impact on child development and health. We can’t skirt around that evidence.

But what I love about the Sharp studies is that they show that something as simple and easy to do as holding and stroking your baby’s face, tummy, back, arms and legs can have a major impact on reducing this risk.

Knowing that you can do something to help your baby, even if you have struggled with depression or anxiety symptoms during pregnancy offers a message of hope – during pregnancy and beyond.

New Mothers with Severe Postpartum Depression

I know that new mothers with severe symptoms of postpartum depression may find this hard. And while there is no evidence on whether fathers holding and stroking has the same effect, my recommendation, in this case, would be for fathers to step into this role. After all, more and more research shows the substantial and unique impact that fathers have on infant development and well-being.

The Bottom Line

Beginning research shows that one way to protect your newborn child from the potential effects of prenatal depression and anxiety is to hold and stroke your baby 4 or more times every day – from the time he is born until he is 2 months old. And given the important and unique role that dads play in child development, this is a great way for dads to support both mother and baby.

Important: When I write about the potential effects that depression and anxiety in pregnancy can have on the child, I try to do so with sensitivity and deep respect for women who have struggled during their pregnancy. My hope is that readers of this piece understand that my desire is to help pregnant women and new mothers be relieved of the burden they may carry about their pregnancy experience.

References:

  1.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=sharp+pickles+meaney
  2.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25068652
  3.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27464490

Originally published HERE.

I’m Dr. Dawn Kingston, Canada’s leading expert on perinatal mental health and for over ten years I’ve been at the forefront of research on how to prevent postpartum depression. My team and I have developed the HOPE App which is designed to significantly reduce prenatal anxiety and depression and directly support expectant mothers. We are studying it in a massive implementation study, one of the most ambitious projects of this type ever! www.drdawnkingston.com

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