Examining the Effects of Perceived Pregnancy Discrimination on Mother and Baby Health
Over the last decade, more than 50,000 pregnancy discrimination claims were filed in the United States (United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [U.S. EEOC], 2018a). While pregnancy discrimination claims remain prevalent, research examining the effects of pregnancy discrimination on the well-being and health of working mothers and their babies is lacking. As such, we examined the role of perceived pregnancy discrimination in the workplace on health outcomes for mothers and their babies via mother’s stress. Utilizing the occupational stress literature and medical research, we proposed that perceived pregnancy discrimination indirectly relates to mother and baby health via the mother’s perceived stress. The results of two studies suggest that perceived pregnancy discrimination indirectly relates to increased levels of postpartum depressive symptoms for the mothers, and lower birth weights, lower gestational ages, and increased number of doctors’ visits for the babies, via perceived stress of the mothers during pregnancy.