Pregnant Women Shown to Favor Family Advice over Doctor’s Orders

During the course of pregnancy, women are often affected by a series of guidelines and pieces of advice administered by their doctors and other health professionals, and combined with societal messages about how pregnant women are supposed to behave, such pieces of advice may prove difficult to understand or to follow. Relying instead on the advice of mothers and grandmothers seems to be a popular alternative, according to a study recently carried out at the University of London. Investigating how women reacted to various cues from their doctors, from society, and from their female family members, the researchers found that trusting the experience of one’s own family may have important benefits.

To acquire useful information on the subject, the researchers recruited groups of women hailing from three different decades of pregnancy periods. One group gave birth in the 1970s, another in the 1980s, and the third group gave birth in the 2000s. Among the oldest participants, whose children were born in the 1970s, researchers found that many women relied on the advice and guidance of female family members simply because more detailed and candid information from other sources was fairly lacking. Those who gave birth in later decades, however, were found to be more receptive to family-based advice regardless of the fact that very precise and descriptive information was available elsewhere.

The researchers note that the tendency to trust in female family members and to choose their advice even over direct orders from a doctor suggests that women may be able to use intended guidelines as guidelines alone, rather than feeling confined or oppressed by social wisdom and potentially unpersonalized medical guidance. Potentially functioning as a great aid in the mental health and well-being of pregnant women, this preference for maternal advice shows a dedication to valuing experienced and unbiased information that may be lacking in other areas and periods of life, such as issues of self-image, and likely warrants further investigation.

© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

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  • miley


    May 18th, 2010 at 10:18 AM

    there is a wide-spread belief that mothers and grand-mothers know best and that its always better to heed traditional practices than what he doctors say.this is undergoing a change but it’ll take time for a large percentage of people to change their perception.

  • suzanne G.

    suzanne G.

    May 18th, 2010 at 6:25 PM

    I don’t quite agree with this…with the advent of migration to different states and countries and with more and more families without elders at home, the advice-seeking from elders is on the decline,if not totally out.

  • April


    May 19th, 2010 at 4:53 AM

    I am a young pregnant mom to be, and I have listened to advice from everyone over the past eight months or so. And some great advice has come both from the doctors as well as female members of my family. I try to take it all in and then make sense of that which is what I know will work best for me and the baby when he gets here. I would never disregard anything that my doctors tell me about my health or about that of the baby, but when it comes to things like how to make my baby happy or how to get him to sleep through the night I know that I will be relying on a lot of advice from friends and family who have been there and done that with success.

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