Having children 'can raise a woman's self-esteem'
Published 23/03/2010 | 11:28
Having children can raise a woman's self-esteem, a new study suggests.
Being needed by young children can increase their feelings of self-worth, researchers believe.
They found that having children can cut the chances that a woman will commit suicide.
The risks fell further the more children she had, the study found.
Part of the reason could be an increased sense of happiness and self-esteem that woman feel after giving birth, according to researchers.
Mothers often have more supportive social networks than women who do not have children, they add.
The research team set out to study the theory that parenthood protects against suicide.
First suggested by renowned sociologist Emile Durkheim in 1897, studies have found the theory difficult to prove because of the relatively low number of people who take their own lives.
In one of the largest studies of its kind, researchers looked at data involving 1,292,462 women over 20 years.
Their findings show that motherhood does indeed have a protective effect.
And that effect increases the number of children that a women has, according to the study, published in the CMAJ, the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Women had two children were 39pc less likely to take their own lives than women who had just one.
And that figure rose to 60pc among women who had three children.
"A clear tendency was found toward decreasing suicide rates with increasing number of children after controlling for age at first birth, marital status, years of schooling, and place of delivery," said Dr Chun-Yuh Yang, from Kaoshiung Medical University in Taiwan, who led the study.
“Given that the women included in this study were young (the large majority of suicide-related deaths occurred before premenopausal age) and were among the youngest reported for any country, this finding is particularly noteworthy."
He added: “The presence of young children may increase the mother’s feelings of self-worth, possibly based on her perception of being needed.