A review of the literature regarding the relationship between psychosocial stress, anxiety, and occupation on pregnancy complications reveals several interesting patterns. Specifically, emotional reactions during pregnancy (McDonald 1968; Joffe, 1969; Spielberger & Jacobs, 1976) and stress before pregnancy (Gorsuch, 1974) have been associated with a larger number of pregnancy complications such as miscarriages, prolonged labor, breech births, and premature births. With approximately 63% of women over the age of 16 working (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1984), public policy changes may be needed to ensure the safety of the fetus. This paper will review the literature and provide suggestions for ameliorating stress for working women who become pregnant. Preventative programs may include disseminating information, granting pregnancy leaves, reducing work loads, and providing supportive work environments.
Cooke, R. A., & Rousseau, D. M. (1981). Problems of complex systems; a model of systems problem solving applied to schools. Educational Administration Quarterly, 17, 15-41.
Cooper, C. L. (1983). Problem areas for future stress research; Cancer and working women. In Cooper (Ed.), Stress research: Issues for the eighties, (pp. 103-119). New York: Wiley.
Gorusch, R. L. (1974). Abnormalities of pregnancy as a function of anxiety and life stress. Psychosomatic Medicine, 36, 352-362.
Gove, W. R., & Geerken, M. R. (1977). The effect of children and employment on the mental health of married men and women. Social Forces, 56, 66-76.
Haynes, S. G., & Feinlab, M. (1980). Women, work and coronary heart disease; Prospective findings from the Framingham heart study. American Journal of Public Health, 70, 133-141.
Hemminki, K., Kyyronen, P., Niemi, M., Koskinen, K., Stallmen, M., & Vainio, H. (1983). Spontaneous abortions in an industrialized Community in Finland. American Journal of Public Health, 73, No. 1, 32-37.
Holmes, T., & Masuda, M. (1974). Life changes and illness susceptibility. In B. Dohrenwend and B. Dohrenwend (Eds.) Stressful life events; Their nature and effects. New York: Wiley.
Joffe, J. M. (1969). Prenatal determinants of behavior. New York: Pergamon Press.
Kaffman, M., Elizur, J., & Harpazy, L. (1982). An epidemic of spontaneous abortion; Psychosocial factors. Israeli Journal of Psychiatry Related Science, 19, No. 3, 239-246.
Lazarus, R. (1981). Little hassles can be hazardous to your health. Psychology Today, July.
Liem, J., & Liem, R. (1976). Life events, social supports, and physical and psychological well being. Paper presented at the American Psychological Association meeting, Washington, D.C.
McDonald, R. L. (1968). The role of emotional factors in obstetric complications: A review. Psychosomatic Medicine, 30, 222-237.
Norbeck, J., & Tilden, V. (1983). Life stress, social support, and emotional disequilibrium in complications of pregnancy; a prospective, multivariate study. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24, 30-46.
Rofe, Y. & Goldberg, J. (1983). Prolonged exposure to a war environment and its effects on the blood pressure of pregnant women. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 56, 305-311.
Spielberger, C. D., & Jacobs, G. (1976). Stress and anxiety during pregnancy and labor. Symposium on Clinical Psycho-Neuroendocrinology in Reproduction, Siena, Italy.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (1984). Monthly Labor Review, July.
Weil, S. (1981). The unspoken needs of families during high risk pregnancies. American Journal of Nursing, Nov., 2047-2049.
Woods, N. F. (1978). Women's roles, mental health, and illness behavior. Unpublished doctoral thesis. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina.
Kathleen M. Kalil, Ph.D.
Wayne County Community College,
Detroit, Michigan, and the
University of Michigan-Dearborn