How Do a Mother's Emotions Affect Her Baby?

During the lactation period and the first stages of a child's development, it's crucial for mothers to have an adequate emotional regulation. Would you like to know how a mother's emotions affect her baby? We're here to tell you.
How Do a Mother's Emotions Affect Her Baby?
Marián Carrero Puerto

Written and verified by the psychologist Marián Carrero Puerto.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Our own emotional state affects the people around us. In the same way, a mother’s emotions affect her baby. In fact, during the nine months of pregnancy, her emotions will affect how the baby develops. But, above all, they’ll impact her little one during the breastfeeding period. In the following article, we’ll explain why.

Bad habits, such as alcohol, tobacco, poor diet, or coffee abuse are harmful during pregnancy. What’s more, new research has concluded that the emotional state of the mother can also have a negative impact on the baby. That’s why today we want to know how a mother’s emotions affect her baby.

“An emotion does not cause pain. Resistance or suppression of emotion causes pain.”

– Frederick Dodson –

The mother’s emotions in the womb

In the words of Professor Enrique García Fernández-Abascal: “The mother’s emotions are a great regulator of her and the baby’s physiology. Those that are positive, for example, generate an attenuation of the cardiovascular system and an activation and reinforcement of the immune system. In other words, the happier we are, the more vaccinated, in a way, we will be against colds. On the other hand, when we are overcome by negative emotions, we secrete toxic hormones, our heart races, and our immune system is depressed, which leaves us more vulnerable to illness.”

How Do a Mother's Emotions Affect Her Baby?

This isn’t to say that pregnancy is all about positive emotions – no mother’s free from experiencing negative emotions from time to time. And we know that the placenta protects the baby from negative emotions. The problem arises when they become chronic and the mother isn’t able to experience wellbeing and happiness. It’s clear that stress or anxiety in their proper measure aren’t bad. However, if they last over time, they become harmful, both for the baby and for the mother herself.

“When I say controlling emotions, I mean really stressful and disabling emotions. Feeling emotions is what makes our life rich.”

– Daniel Goleman –

The mother’s emotions in the breastfeeding period and how they affect her baby

A mother’s adequate emotional regulation is crucial during this period. We know that, on a physiological level, there are innumerable advantages of breastfeeding for both mother and baby. Well, on an emotional level, the same is true, and the future emotional development of the baby, for example, will depend on it.

If the mother is experiencing emotions such as sadness for a long time, this will affect the production of prolactin and oxytocin. These hormones are responsible for producing the mother’s milk during the breastfeeding period. Therefore, changes in the endocrine system won’t occur properly.

Another example is prolonged stress. At such times, the body secretes a number of hormones such as cortisol, which prepare us to flee, fight or freeze.

How Do a Mother's Emotions Affect Her Baby?

When these hormones are triggered, the body ceases those functions that it considers less important to deal with at that moment. For example, digestive functions and immune system function. Therefore, this will negatively affect the digestive system and may even decrease the body’s ability to cope with the onset of a condition.

What’s more, the mother can pass these hormones, which are in breast milk, to her baby through the blood plasma. As a result, the baby may experience a slowdown in its neuronal and immunological maturation, and greater difficulty in gaining weight, since both systems are not functioning properly.

“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.”

– C. G. Jung –


In this article, we’ve been able to see how a mother’s emotions affect her baby. Although there are no good or bad emotions and all of them are worthy of being experienced, it’s true that some have a negative influence when they last over time. Or, even worse, when they end up becoming chronic.

For this reason, mothers have to work on managing their emotions so that they remain regulated in a proper manner and, therefore, favorably benefit her baby.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.