Friday, January 18, 2013
Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives by Annie Murphy Paul is one such book. There is, of course, a long list of things that I should or shouldn't be doing since I'm pregnant. Paul focuses on how fetuses are impacted by what the mother does or what occrus to her while she is pregnant.
In some ways, this book made me panic. Am I eating the best foods possible? No, but I feel like I'm doing pretty good. Should I be exercising more? Yes. Should I stop eating off plastics? Etc, etc, etc.
One of the sections I found most interesting was on stress. As someone who fights anxiety and depression, this has been an issue I've thought about a lot. Unfortunately, though somewhat understandably, not a lot of research has been done on medicines that mothers take. Once I found out I was pregnant, that was one of the most immediate questions: What to do about my medicine. As my doctor said, stress is not good for mama or baby and Paul's research certainly bears that out. We all know what a lousy system of maternity leave we have in the US. Paul raises the question of whether we should also think about offering women time off prior to birth to cut down on stress because we know that will produce healthier babies.
In addition day to day stress, Paul also looked at big events as stressors such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Holocaust and found research that shows some pretty dramatic results. Children in the womb during these periods have long lasting outcomes from the stresses placed on their mothers.
I found Origins to be fascinating. Mothers to be or hopeful mothers to be will find this interesting, but I also think people with curiosity about science and the nature v. nurture argument will also enjoy it a great deal.