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Many Moms-to-Be Turn to Their Moms First for Medical Advice
  • Robert Preidt
  • Posted December 4, 2019

Many Moms-to-Be Turn to Their Moms First for Medical Advice

Moms trump doctors when it comes to pregnancy advice, a new study suggests.

More often than not, pregnant women rely on guidance from their mothers instead of medical experts, the researchers found.

Many believe their mom's advice is as good or even better than medical recommendations.

"And often for good reason," said study author Danielle Bessett, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Cincinnati.

Bessett interviewed pregnant women and their mothers while following the younger women for their entire pregnancy.

"I found that most pregnancy self-help books, best known for their month-by-month guidance on fetal development and lifestyle coaching, are also emphatic about following medical advice exclusively over what they consider the outdated advice of a mother or friend," Bessett said.

This promotes a "generational disconnect" between pregnant women and their mothers.

"This advice is limited and can result in an increased level of stress and discomfort for some soon-to-be moms," Bessett said.

The link between pregnant women and their mothers during pregnancy was strongest among minorities and women with less than a college degree who had little trust in their health care providers.

"It was not the case at all that these mothers were anti-science or against medicine, but for minority women and those with lower levels of education, there is clear evidence of not being listened to or feeling cared for by physicians and clinics as much as pregnant women with higher education," Bessett said.

"This all ties back to why women with lower education might be relying more on their mothers -- because their moms listen to them more," she explained.

Despite being more likely to heed medical advice, women with higher levels of education still turned to their mothers for certain types of help, the study found.

"They leaned more on their doctors for advice about what to eat and what tests to have, but turned to their moms for advice on child care and for emotional support, and talked a lot about the ways in which bodies change as a result of pregnancy," Bessett said.

The study was published recently in the journal Reproduction, Health, and Medicine (Advances in Medical Sociology).

More information

The U.S. Office on Women's Health offers tips for a safe and healthy pregnancy.

SOURCE: University of Cincinnati, news release, Nov. 27, 2019
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