Working Moms Say They Are Healthier
Working full time seems to boost both mental and physical health for women who are mothers, compared with women who stay at home or work part time.
Women who go back to work soon after having children have more energy and are less likely to be depressed at age 40, according to a recent study.
"Work is good for your health, both mentally and physically," says study author Adrianne Frech, Ph.D., at the University of Akron. "It gives women a sense of purpose, self-efficacy, control and autonomy."
Dr. Frech and researchers from Penn State University in Pennsylvania looked at data on 2,540 women who became mothers between 1978 and 1995. They divided the women into several categories: those who worked full time; those who stayed at home or worked part time; and those who dropped in and out of the work force, often not by choice.
The study took a number of factors into account that could influence health, such as pre-pregnancy employment, race and ethnicity, marital status, prior health conditions, and the women's age when they had their first child.
Women's choices early in their career had an impact on their health as they grew older, Dr. Frech says.
"If women can make good choices before their first pregnancy, they likely will be better off health-wise later," she says. "Examples of good choices could be delaying your first birth until you're married and done with your education, or not waiting a long time before returning to the workforce."
Full-time work may benefit mothers for a number of reasons. Full-time workers usually make more money, have more opportunities for promotion, increased job security and more employment benefits than women who work part time. Stay-at-home moms may be financially dependent and at higher risk of social isolation than working mothers.
The study results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.
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