Example Essay on Motherhood and Its Impact on the Baby’s Health

Motherhood and childhood bonds are long before and after the umbilical cord is removed.  As a fetus develops, it is continually picking up communication from the mother. The developing fetus receives nutrients and oxygen from the mother. The fetus does not just hear the mother’s heartbeat or certain music that is being played to her from her mother’s belly; through the placenta, it is also getting chemical signals. As both baby and mother transition into each other roles, they will create a strong relationship by reading each other’s cues. However, when the mother is faced with challenges in their physical and mental health, this might cause distress to both partners. A mother’s physical and mental health plays an important role in the development of the baby as well as their health. If a mother is depressed, their baby’s development will be affected by it after it is born. Maternal depression may have a significant effect on the way children’s brain works according to researchers writing in the Journal of Depression and Anxiety (Carroll, L., 2018). This physical impact can lead to a child feeling distressed physiological. 

Studies have shown that the mother’s womb is important to the growth of the fetus. The environment that they are in will have a great effect on how they will evolve. The effects of a mother’s physical and mental health influences on their baby’s health are that it can cause stress hormones to affect the growth of the fetus, children are more likely to act out or to be anxious compared to children whose moms were not depressed, and mothers are less likely to engage with their children when they are stressed. The consistency of the environment for a baby before and after birth is significant to the development of the babies.  Mothers who are healthy and emotionally stable before and after birth tend to have babies that carry the same orientation. Mothers that were depressed before and after birth, stay depressed and their babies also exhibit that same behavior. The most effective way to fix the problem is by changing their responses to stress through self-care, seeking support from family and friends, and developing emotional strategies for coping throughout the pregnancy. 


Figure 1. Two key themes and subthemes of a mothers’ emotional needs and how peer support affects them. (13 January 2017). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5237175/13. Copyright © The Author(s). 2017 Published by BioMed Central

In figure 1, 47 mothers—ages 19 to over 40—participated in a study to see their characteristics and also thematic analysis. Two key themes were a ‘mother’ self-identified issues’ and ‘how peer support affects mothers’. The mother's issues were emotional distress, stressful circumstances, lack of social support and unwilling to be open with health professionals. This leads to them having lower self-esteem, poor emotional state, feeling lonely, and having low self-confidence (McLeish, J., & Redshaw, M., 2017). Having these physiological factors can cause a baby to have mental problems growing up. This can affect the baby’s emotional, psychological, physical, and behavioral development. Being said, having a support system will help mothers feel more positive throughout their pregnancy. Social connection, being heard, feeling valued and mental health peer experience can help a mother feel more positive. This will make them feel that they have a great support system, boost their self-esteem and self-confidence. A mother’s emotional wellbeing is going to help her influence her baby physically and mentally.

Figure 2. Hypothesized path model. (June 2014). Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S197613171400022X. Copyright © 2014 Published by Elsevier (Singapore) Pte Ltd.

Figure 2 shows a hypothesized model displaying how infant health problems correlate to the marital relationship. This figure is to show that infant health problems and the mother's depression will lead to a negative effect on the mother's marital relationship, and ultimately to infant abuse (Kim, K., Choi, J., & Kim, Y., 2014). A child will retaliate in the future because of how they were mistreated by an abusive mother. It will cause an estranged relationship between the mother and the child. A child will develop negative physiological behaviors and are more likely to isolate themselves from others.

Causes of the problem

There are several causes to why a mother’s physical and mental health can be affected during pregnancy. Depression can harm the developing fetus if you do not take care of yourself during pregnancy, including attending regular prenatal visits and avoiding alcohol and tobacco smoke. Some of the causes are Women experience an increase in the production of hormones: progesterone and estrogen, high levels of stress can cause health problems such as high blood pressure and heart diseases, and poverty. 

Although these hormones are critical for a successful pregnancy, it can cause a problem to the mother which can affect their baby. During pregnancy, women experience an increase in the production of hormones: estrogen and estrogen. Having developing the increase in these hormones can impact on emotions and the brain’s ability to monitor those emotions. 

High level of stress can cause health problems in pregnancy. Mothers can end up with high blood pressure and heart disease. Pregnancy women who develop high blood pressure will need to be monitored closely for preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a quick or sudden onset of high blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy. This condition causes high blood pressure, swelling of hands and faces, abdominal pain, blurred vision, dizziness, and headaches. Pregnancy stresses your heart and circulatory system. During pregnancy, your blood volume increases by 30 to 50 percent to nourish your growing baby, your heart pumps more blood each minute and your heart rate increases. Labor and delivery add to your heart’s workload. Certain heart conditions, especially narrowing of the mitral valve or aortic valve, can pose life-threatening risks for mother or baby. 

Poverty is also another cause of the problem. Poverty considerably heightens family stress and increases the risk of social and emotional problems in children. Mothers would not be able to afford good insurance provided at their work due to it being too expensive. For example, many homes of urban families in poverty are infested by cockroaches. In New York City, among African-American and Dominican women in northern Manhattan and the South Bronx, 85 percent report that pest control measures are used in the home during pregnancy, mostly for cockroach control. All of these women (100 percent) have detectable levels of three different pesticides in their blood, and 30 percent of these women have detectable levels of 8 pesticides in their blood. 

The consequences of the problem is that it will increase the chance of premature baby or a low-birth baby, high stress level can cause health problems for a child, and it can affect fetal brain and might lead to behavior issues as the baby grows.

When pregnant, stress can increase the chances of having a premature baby—born before 37 weeks of pregnancy—or a low-birthweight baby which is weighing less than 5 ½ pounds. If too much stress then there are chances that mothers can miscarriage. 

Pragmatic solution

Some solutions that can help are by changing their responses to stress through self-care, seeking support from family and friends and developing emotional strategies for coping through the pregnancy.


Carroll, L. (24 August 2018). Maternal’s depression can impact baby’s physical and mental health. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-parenting-depression/maternal-depression-can-impact-babys-physical-and-mental-health-idUSKCN1L924S

Fonagy, P., Sleed, M., & Baradon, T. (2016). Randomized Controlled Trial of Parent-Infant Psychotherapy for Parents with Mental Health Problems and Young Infants. Infant Mental Health Journal, 37(2), 97–114. https://doi-org.westcoastuniversity.idm.oclc.org/10.1002/imhj.21553

McLeish, J., & Redshaw, M. (2017, January 13). Mothers' accounts of the impact on emotional wellbeing of organised peer support in pregnancy and early parenthood: A qualitative study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5237175/

Kim, K., Choi, J., & Kim, Y. (June 2014). Effect of Infant Health Problem, Mother’s Depression and Marital Relationship on Infant Abuse in Korea: Mediating Pathway of Marital Relationship. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S197613171400022X

Rios-Gastelum, C. (23 May 2018). Maternal Mental Health and the Infant-Parent Relationship. Retrieved from https://postpartumhealthalliance.org/maternal-mental-health-and-the-infant-parent-relationship/