Stress of preterm birth doesn’t hamper mom’s parenting

By Laura Mize • Published: September 18th, 2015
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Premature birth isn’t stressful just for baby.

Moms and dads of babies born preterm have an awful lot of anxiety to deal with, watching their child struggle to survive and being separated from him or her due to prolonged hospitalization. Moms of premature babies are known to be at greater risk of depression, and experts have long wondered how such distress might affect parenting abilities.

Many studies have looked at parents of preterm infants over the years, with varying conclusions about mothers’ responsiveness and babies’ development.

British researchers recently set out to provide some clarity on the issue. They analyzed 34 studies previously conducted, looking for patterns in their conclusions about the parenting of moms with kids born prematurely.

The studies included 3,900 mothers of young children. About half had babies born early, while the rest had children at full term.

The researchers found the studies showed no real difference in mothers’ sensitivity and responsiveness to their children, regardless of the babies’ gestational ages at birth. The same held true despite how early the preterm babies were born, whether the research was conducted in North America or Europe, and the age of the child at the time of the original study.

That means there’s no reason to worry babies born prematurely will be delayed due to mom’s stress levels over the whole ordeal.

The British experts stressed that this doesn’t mean preterm babies will be free of developmental challenges. Premature birth is linked to various health challenges for kids, no matter how terrific their parents are.

Extra thoughtful parenting may be required to help these kids blossom. And most moms out there will rise to the occasion just fine.