How does the quality of one's pregnancy impact the development of their children?

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The quality of a mother's pregnancy in terms of her bodily, mental, and emotional wellness play a huge role in the development of her child, both in the womb and after birth. 

Someone who is malnourished during pregnancy not only experience health troubles and a higher risk of maternal mortality themselves, they also pose risks to the development of the fetus. Fetuses who do not receive adequate nutrition in the womb may be underweight at birth or have abnormalities in the skeleton or one of the bodily systems. Small lungs and neurological dysfunction are just two examples of the kinds of developmental issues a malnourished fetus might develop.

A mother's level of stress during pregnancy is also a major factor in the mental and emotional wellness of her child throughout their entire life. Beyond the risk of miscarriage or low birth weight, a mother who experiences depression, anxiety, lack of sleep, or other high-stress conditions can give birth to a child who has delays in mental and emotional functions. Self-regulation of emotions and attention span are significantly impacted by a mother's level of stress during pregnancy. The stress hormone cortisol can "program" a fetus for a high-stress environment after birth, causing a delay in cognitive development. High cortisol levels are not only induced by emotional distress, but also physical activity and a lack of sleep. 

Developing fetuses are susceptible to environmental factors the mother may be exposed to, some of which have life-long impacts. Clean air is very important, as pollution and smoke (either first or second hand) can cause babies to be born with underdeveloped lungs, low birth weight, and asthma. Water quality is equally important, as contaminants like lead can have significant impacts on development in and out of the womb. Waterborne pathogens which cause illness in the mother may cause miscarriage or low birth weight in the fetus, depending on how severe the condition becomes. 

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