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Women advised to pursue education and work before having children

A professor researching the health effects of unemployment on mothers has advised young women to set solid foundations of qualifications and work experience before starting a family.

Professor Adrianne Frech, working with researchers from the University of Akron and Penn State University, studied 2,540 women who became mothers between 1978 and 1995.

They found that mums who returned to full-time employment soon after giving birth reported a better state of mental and physical health by the age of 40 than women who chose not to rejoin the workforce permanently.

Women who remained unemployed, or who pursued only part-time/temporary work after the birth of their children demonstrated the lowest levels of physical health, mobility, energy, and the highest levels of depression by the age of 40.

Prof. Frech said: “Struggling to hold onto a job or being in constant job search mode wears on their health, especially mentally, but also physically.”

Full-time work offers more pay, greater security and higher chances of promotion than temporary or part-time work, contributing to increased levels of purpose, control, self-efficacy and autonomy.

According to Prof. Frech, women should make careful choices before their first pregnancy to ensure better health later in life. For instance, they should: “Delay their first birth until they’re married and done with education,” and try to get back to work reasonably soon after they give birth.

Millions of women give up career aspirations because life takes them in other directions, such as towards marriage and parenthood. This, says Prof. Frech, can make women unhealthy, less well-off and more vulnerable in divorce situations.

With careful planning and good balance, it is possible to start a family and pursue career ambitions simultaneously. However, doing so is far from easy and will require good time-management skills, fair work/life balance and a healthy dose of motivation.

Life coaches help their clients develop the above skills. By setting realistic but consistent goals, offering support and guiding their clients through difficult times, life coaches can help them to find a perfect equilibrium between work and family life.

Find out more by browsing our list of subjects that life coaches deal with in Life Coaching Areas.

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Written by Zoe Thomas

Written by Zoe Thomas

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