I believe that the knowledge discussed in the article: “How the First Nine Months Shape the Rest of Your Life” is beneficial to expectant women. As the author explains, “no woman who is pregnant today can escape hearing the message that what she does affects her fetus”. I personally work with pregnant women on a daily basis and this statement couldn’t be more accurate. There are so many doctors, family members, and books telling them what to do, what not to do, and what sort of terrifying consequences can result from their actions as a mother. However, as I’ve said, I agree with Paul’s position. “The power to change behavior” and the “excitement of discovery” can be helpful in educating pregnant women.
“We’re used to hearing about all the things that can go wrong during pregnancy, but as these researchers are finding out, it’s frequently the intrauterine environment that makes things go right in later life” (Paul, 2010).
I’ve mentioned that scientific knowledge can help women to change their behavior once they discover that they are with child. One of the most important tasks of a mother is to maintain a healthy weight during their pregnancy. The study on obesity conducted at Harvard Medical School found that a child will most likely be overweight by the age of 3 if their mother had gained too much weight during the pregnancy. When researchers compared women who had average weight gain during their pregnancy with women that gained weight excessively, the results concluded that the child would most likely be obese during the stage of adolescence (Paul, 2010).
These findings can open the ears and eyes of overweight women—not only for the sake of their unborn children, but for their own health as well.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are women out there that aren’t eating enough. David Barker (the Barker hypothesis) suggested that when an unborn child is malnourished, then most of the nutrients is does receive will go to the brain. When the child becomes an adult, he or she will most likely survive to middle age—but the unbalanced nutrients will then result in increased chances of heart disease and other illnesses (Paul, 2010).
According to the Levine and Munsch text, the goal of a newborn’s weight is between 7 and 8 pounds for Caucasian babies; this number is slightly less for African and Asian children. The research mentioned on page 159 states that when a mother’s diet is inadequate and the infant grows in a household where there is an abundance of food, then this child is more prone to obesity. It also states that malnourished fetuses are born with a lower basal metabolic rate. These infants will burn calories slower after they are born, which puts them at higher risk for obesity and maybe even diabetes in their future (Levine & Munsch, 2011).
I know I may be contradicting myself here, but upon completing these readings I have realized how much stress expectant mothers are REALLY experiencing. I do believe that learning about these findings could potentially provide mothers with helpful knowledge for the duration of their pregnancy. However, I could also see how it may have a tendency to overwhelm some women. These hypotheses/discoveries are somewhat scary, but they exist for preventative purposes as well as to raise awareness—that’s a positive aspect that we cannot ignore.
Levine, Laura E., and Joyce Munsch. Child Development: An Active Learning Approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2011. Print.
Paul, Annie Murphy. “How the First Nine Months Shape the Rest of Your Life.” Time. Time, 22 Sept. 2010. Web. 12 Oct. 2012 <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2021065,00.html>.
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