In a study released in the June issue of the journal American Sociological Review, mothers who have had a baby while unmarried appear to be at higher risk for poor health. The study, which began in 1979, followed close to 4,000 women between the ages of 14 and 22. The young women were queried every year until 1994, and every two years thereafter until 2022.
Those women who had delivered children outside of marriage reported being less healthy as they approached their 40s than the ones who had postponed motherhood until after marriage. In addition, those who began motherhood and then married reported the same health concerns. Those who married before having children reported the highest levels of positive health.
The study allowed for prior existing health conditions.
The rate of birth in the unmarried mother category has jumped from less than 10% in 1960 to close to 40% today.
The reasons for reduced health in this group are unknown, but many surmise that the possibility of a lower income level may have something to do with it. Women who have children when they are both younger and unmarried typically have a lower level of education and this can be a deterrent to higher income.
One reason for higher weight in single moms may be that single mothers experience a higher level of stress, and many women turn to food for comfort. I know that I constantly have to be aware of my stress levels and stop myself from walking into the kitchen when I’m overwhelmed. Try some of these great stress busters in place of reaching for the ice cream.
- If you’ve just got to eat, try chewing gum. Often the chewing and swallowing that one does with gum will fit the bill and it is close to calorie free.
- Take up boxing. Sounds trite, but it really works. I’ve got a heavy bag in my house and when I’m just overwhelmed with stress, I take it to the bag. Even 5 minutes of punching the stuffing out of the bag helps clear my head and helps me to have patience. No punching bag? Well, you’ve got a pillow, right? Punch into the pillow.
- Cleaning. No, really. No one likes cleaning, but if you’ve walked into the kitchen to grab an ice cream bar, grab a scrub brush instead. You can work off some of that steam and see a gleaming house as a bonus.
What are some ways that you beat stress without resorting to pigging out in the kitchen?