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Maternal Behaviors and Their Effect on the Unborn Child

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 4 (860 words)
Categories: Behavior, Child, Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Health
Downloads: 25
Views: 170

Pregnancy can be one of the most magical times in a woman’s life. There is nothing quite like taking care of the little person that is growing in the womb, and knowing that everything you do is going to have some kind of effect on that little person.

For a vast majority of women, pregnancy is a magical time, one filled with awe and wonder. Pregnant women tend to take better care of themselves, making sure that they are providing the best environment for their growing child.

Some women, however, do just the opposite and do not take care of themselves and thus harm the unborn child in their womb.

There are several things that can have an adverse effect on the growing child. One of them is the mother’s nutrition. This is an easily adjustable factor, but one that some women don’t actually think about. When a woman becomes pregnant, according to www.americanpregnancy.org, she needs to consume roughly 300 more calories than normal in order to have a healthy pregnancy


This will provide the extra nutrition that the fetus needs. If a mother does not consume enough calories, she is putting her child at risk of being malnourished. A poorly nourished infant is more likely to get sick, as they do not have the ability to fight off illness as well as a properly nourished child. There is also a possibility that undernourishment can have an impact on the mental development of a child (Feldman, 329). Proper nourishment is vital to proper development both in the womb and once the child is born.

Another behavior that can have an adverse effect on the growing child is alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Alcohol is a teratogen, which is known to be harmful to human development


Consuming alcohol during pregnancy can cause the unborn child to have fetal alcohol syndrome, or FAS. This condition causes the child to be of below-average intelligence, have facial deformities, and growth delays (Feldman, 309). According to www.marchofdimes.com, alcohol can also cause the baby to have sucking and sleeping problems, behavior problems, and speech and language delays


Even if a mother doesn’t drink every day, even a small amount of alcohol can have adverse effects. Fetal alcohol effects is another condition that a child can develop. With FAE, the child may have some, but not all the symptoms of FAS (Feldman, 329). When my husband and I were foster parents, it was suspected that our foster son had FAE. He did not have growth delays, necessarily, as he was the average size of a child his age, but he did have some intellectual delays, speech problems, and some behavioral issues. Over all, he was a wonderful child, he just needed some extra care and attention in certain areas to compensate for the places he lacked.

Drug use is also a behavior that can cause adverse effects on an unborn child. According to www.marchofdimes.com, about 4% of women use illegal drugs during their pregnancy. These include marijuana, ecstasy, heroin, and other amphetamines. To me, that is a staggering number of women. There are many problems that a child faces if the mother used drugs during pregnancy. Premature birth and withdrawal seem to be the most common. There is also the possibility of birth defects, such as heart defects and cleft palates. The symptoms and long term effects of drug use vary depending on the type of drug that the mother used.

Some drugs are by far worse than others, but all of them carry a risk. All of the drugs tend to carry a risk of learning disabilities, behavioral issues, and attention problems. There are even some legal drugs, things that you can buy over the counter that can have an adverse effect on an unborn child (Feldman, 329). Aspirin is one such drug. Using aspirin, because of its blood thinning properties, can harm the child and cause excessive bleeding during childbirth (http://drugs.about.com/lw/Health-Medicine/Womens-Health/Medications-to-Avoid-During-Pregnancy.htm).

It would be advisable to consult with your doctor before taking any kind of medication while pregnant because any of them can have an adverse effect on the baby during different stages of pregnancy. I know for me personally, I don’t like taking anything other than my prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, because I’m fearful of what effect it could have on my child. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I almost refused to take Tylenol when I had a headache, because I was afraid it would do some harm. I’ve not been quite that way with my son, but I still avoid most medicines because I don’t want to risk doing any harm.

Pregnancy is nothing short of a miracle, and should be treated as such. Providing a healthy environment for the baby to grow is of utmost importance, especially for the well-being of that child. Anything and everything that a mother does during her pregnancy has an effect on her unborn child. Getting proper nutrition and not using or abusing drugs or alcohol will help the mother have a healthy pregnancy and thus a healthy child.


Feldman, Robert S. (2011) Essentials of Understanding Psychology, 9th Edition




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Maternal Behaviors and Their Effect on the Unborn Child. (2017, Mar 30). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/maternal-behaviors-and-their-effect-on-the-unborn-child-essay

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