There’s an old saying that husbands have used many times, “happy wife, happy life.” Now it seems there may be a new saying about to trend, “happy mom, less colicky baby.” It doesn’t have the rhyme or snappy cadence, but it may be true none the less, according to recent research.
In a new study of 3,000 mothers, relationship happiness, a solid support system and an involved partner were found to protect against colic -- defined as crying or fussiness three or more hours a day.
"Maybe the baby cries less if the mom and dad are happier," or mothers in happy relationships may not view their baby's crying negatively and may not report it as colic, suggested study senior author Kristen Kjerulff of Penn State College of Medicine.
Having a supportive partner and receiving support from friends and family were also associated with a lower risk of colic, according to the study.
The participants were ages 18 to 35 years old and gave birth at 75 hospitals in Pennsylvania between January 2009 and April 2011. Nearly 12 percent of the mothers said their infants were colicky.
However, the happier a woman said she was with her relationship with her partner during and after pregnancy, the lower the risk of colic in her infant. This was true even among women with postpartum depression and among those whose partner was not their baby's biological father, the study reported.
Interestingly, the research showed that babies of single mothers had the lowest rate of colic. The single women reported having higher levels of general social support.
"If you don't have a partner, you can still have lots of social support, lots of love and lots of happy relationships, and all of that's going to be better for the baby," said Kjerulff, a professor of public health sciences.
Other research has linked increased colic in babies with a mother’s anxiety and lack of support during pregnancy, as well as post partum depression.
The study does not prove a causal relationship between happier mothers and less colicky babies, but an association between the two.
The study results were published recently in the journal Child: Care, Health and Development.