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Child Health USA 2013 An illustrated collection of current and historical data, published annually.

Stress During Pregnancy

Narrative

The health and emotional well-being of a woman, both before and during her pregnancy, can impact the future health of her child. Experiencing stressful events or environmental hardships, such as financial instability, the death of a loved one, or divorce, while pregnancy can place an additional strain on a woman and increase her likelihood of adverse birth outcomes, including preterm birth and low birthweight.1,2 Pregnant women are encouraged to utilize their support networks to help manage stress and to speak with their provider if they experience depression.3

In 2009-2010, nearly three-fourths of recent mothers in a 30-state area reported that they had experienced at least one stressful event in the 12 months prior to delivery of their child. The most commonly reported stressful events were moving to a new address (33.7 percent), arguing with husband or partner more than usual (24.7 percent), serious illness and hospitalization of a family member (22.9 percent), and inability to pay lots of bills (22.7 percent).

The proportion of mothers reporting that they had experienced at least one stressful event ranged from 80.1 percent among Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native women to 56.4 percent among non-Hispanic Asian women. Experiencing six or more stressful events was most common among non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native mothers (13.6 percent), and least common among non-Hispanic Asian mothers (1.0 percent).

1 Beydoun H, Saftlas AF. Physical and mental health outcomes of prenatal maternal stress in human and animal studies: A review of recent evidence. Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology. 2008;22:438–66.

2 Lu M, Halfon N. Racial and ethnic disparities in birth outcomes: a life-course perspective. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 2003;7(1):13-30.

3 March of Dimes . Stress and Pregnancy. Accessed: 07/19/13.

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Graphs

This image is described in the Data section.

Stressful Events graph

This image is described in the Data section.

Mothers Experiencing Stressful Events graph

Data

Stressful Event Experienced during the 12 Months Prior to Delivery, 2009-2010*

Percent of Mothers:

  • Moved to a new address 33.7
  • Argued more than usual with husband/partner 24.7
  • Serious illness and hospitalization of a family member 22.9
  • Unable to pay lots of bills 22.7
  • Death of someone close to her 17.2
  • Husband or partner lost his job 15.2
  • Drug use by someone close to her 12.6
  • Mother lost her job 11.7
  • Was separated or divorced from husband/partner 8.3
  • Husband/partner did not want pregnancy 8.2
  • Husband/partner went to jail 4.4
  • Experienced homelessness 4.1
  • Mother was in a fight 3.8

*Includes data from a total of 30 states and New York City; 25 states contributed both years. Mothers completed surveys between 2 and 9 months postpartum.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, 2009-2010. Analysis conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Mothers Experiencing Stressful Events* During the 12 Months Prior to Delivery, by Number of Events and Race/Ethnicity, 2009-2010**
Race/Ethnicity No Stressful Events 1-2 Stressful Events 3-5 Stressful Events 6 or More Stressful Events
*Total number of stressful events experienced by the mother from the following: moved to a new address, argued more than usual with husband/partner, serious illness and hospitalization of a family member, unable to pay lots of bills, death of someone close to her, husband/partner lost job, drug use by someone close to her, lost job, was divorced or separated, husband/partner did not want job, experience homeless, husband/partner went to jail, was in a fight.
**Includes data from a total of 30 states and New York City; 25 states contributed all 3 years. Mothers completed surveys between 2 and 9 months postpartum.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, 2009-2010. Analysis conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
Non-Hispanic White 30.3 42.9 21.8 5.1
Non-Hispanic Black 22.1 37.2 30.9 10.0
Hispanic 25.5 42.8 25.7 6.0
Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native 19.9 37.3 29.2 13.6
Non-Hispanic Asian 43.7 43.7 11.7 1.0
Non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander 29.2 36.3 27.5 7.0
Non-Hispanic Multiple Race 23.6 36.5 30.9 9.0
Total 28.5 42.0 23.6 5.9