Mothers' cradling habits 'could show stress'
29 August 2007 00:00 in Industry related health news
Mothers who cradle their babies to their right hand side could be more stressed than those who hold them to the left, a new small-scale study has suggested.
Previous research has shown that the majority of mothers prefer to hold their babies to the left hand side, regardless of whether they are left or right handed.
For the latest study Durham University researchers analysed 79 new mothers and their babies, who had an average age of seven months.
The mothers were asked to pick up their child and to fill in a questionnaire on their mental state.
Of the mothers who expressed no signs of stress or depression in the survey, 86 per cent preferred to hold their babies to the left.
Holding babies to the right was found to be more prominent in stressed mothers, with 32 per cent showing a right-sided bias.
Writing in the online version of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, the researchers argue that baby cradling habits could be an indicator of stress.
They add that as at least one in ten women develops post-natal depression, non-verbal clues could help healthcare professionals to identify which women might need extra support.
"Many mothers don't realise they are suffering from stress, or don't want to admit they are," said the study's lead author Dr Nadja Reissland.
"The way they interact with their child is usually the best indicator of their inner mental state."
The researchers are following up the study by looking at how mothers cradle their babies before and after vaccinations.
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Story collated for Zenopa by the Adfero News Agency