If you are a mother of an infant, how do you cradle your baby? I’m not referring to how you hold the baby in general, but how do you cradle the baby, for example, when you are feeding him/her? Do you hold baby to the right or left of your body? Now, ask yourself how stressed you feel.
A study published in the online version of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry has found a link between what side a mother cradles her baby on and high levels of stress. Past research has shown that the majority of mothers prefer to hold their babies to the left. This holds true regardless of whether they are right or left handed. Interestingly, the study found that mothers who cradle their baby on the right side are more likely to be battling stress.
This study is so intriguing because it suggests that you can potentially tell if a mother is stressed or not just by looking at how she cradles her infant. It is only natural to feel stress as a mother, especially in the first few weeks following birth. However, this stress can become more severe and potentially lead to postpartum depression (PPD). As many as one in ten new mothers experiences PPD. Often times, women do not even know they are stressed or depressed. Other times, they are afraid to admit it. Of course, researchers are not advocating that doctors question their patients about their mental state just because of how they cradle their babies. However, they are suggesting that it could be an indicator of stress or depression when other problems are present.
As a mother, I took an interest to this study. Oddly enough, I cradle(d) both of my children on the right. In fact, I’ve always cradled babies to the right as long as I can remember and I probably always will. Why? Because it feels more comfortable than cradling them to the left. Does this mean I’m stressed? Well, I didn’t need a study to tell me that. All joking aside, yes I have stress. I do not know anyone who doesn’t have stress, regardless of whether they are a parent are not. However, I definitely don’t have the ‘extreme stress’ alluded to in this study.
In my opinion, this study is definitely interesting. I do believe that one of the best ways to determine a mother’s mental state (e.g. Does she have PPD?) is to look at how she interacts with her baby. However, I’m not so sure how she cradles her baby has anything to do with her mental state. As interesting as the study and results are, more research needs to be done on the subject.