Poor, rural mothers-to-be have high levels of stress, and few resources to help them handle it, small-scale study concludes

Low-income pregnant women in rural areas experience high levels of stress, but lack the appropriate means to manage their emotional well-being, according to a small-scale study at the University of Missouri. The authors suggest that rural doctors should link these women with resources to help manage stress, Medical Xpress reports.

“Many people think of rural life as being idyllic and peaceful, but in truth, there are a lot of health disparities for residents of rural communities,” Mizzou nursing professor Tina Bloom told Medical Xpress. “Chronic, long-term stress is hard on pregnant women’s health and on their babies’ health. Stress is associated with increased risks for adverse health outcomes, such as low birth weights or pre-terms deliveries, and those outcomes can kill babies.”

Researchers studied about 25 rural pregnant women. Through interviews, researchers discovered that financial problems were one of the biggest stressers for them. Financial stress was exacerbated by the women’s lack of employment, reliable transportation and affordable housing. The women also said that small-town gossip, isolation and interdependence of their lives with extended family members also increased stress. Almost two out of three women showed symptoms of depression, and one in four displayed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. (Read more)

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