Most Pregnant Women Look to Their Mothers for Guidance: Survey

Most pregnant women still rely on their mothers for emotional support and guidance — many weighing mother's advice as equal to or even over medical recommendation, a new study suggests.

For the study, published in the journal Reproduction, the research team from the University of Cincinnati, investigated the complexities within mother-daughter dynamics during pregnancy in relation to potentially harmful advice from many pregnancy guidebooks, looking specifically at the emotional and health care risks to certain groups.

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The researchers performed in-depth interviews with pregnant women and their mothers while following the pregnant women for nine months.

“I found that most pregnancy self-help books, best known for their month-by-month guidance on fetal development and lifestyle coaching, are also empathic about following medical advice exclusively over what they consider the outdated advice of a mother or friend,” said Danielle Bessett, Study researcher from The University of Cincinnati.

Danielle Bessett, Study researcher from The University of Cincinnati“This advice is limited and can result in an increased level of stress and discomfort for some soon-to-be moms.”

While looking at two groups — pregnant women with at least a bachelor's degree and women with no college or higher education — Bessett found that all pregnant women took steps to have a healthy pregnancy.

But while the researcher identified a pervasive link to a mother's influence on her daughter's health and well-being in both groups, it was especially strong for minorities and women with less than a college degree who had little trust in their medical personnel.

Women with higher education engaged with their mothers in ways much more similar to how they are framed in common self-help books.

Danielle Bessett“Self-help books are giving us a really terrible picture of soon-to-be grandmothers that pregnant women themselves don’t really fully endorse regardless of who they are.”

"I argue that books are strictly endorsing medical guidance exclusively and that's not the only place where women are getting their information," Besset added.

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While highly educated women engaged with their mothers in a more limited way, women with lower education engaged with their mothers more in-depth about everything and ranked their mothers as the most valuable source of information, the study said.

The study also found that women with higher education still found a great value in what their mothers could tell them about how their bodies would be changing and were a valuable source for details related to their familial or genetic inheritance -- information that only their mothers could contribute.

Danielle Bessett“One of the most distinctive differences between the two groups showed how much more women with higher education valued how scientific information and modern technology could contribute to a healthy pregnancy.”

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