CAMDENTON, Mo. -- We know stress and pregnancy are a dangerous combination but now it turns out the place you live may make things worse. New research from the University of Missouri shows pregnant women who live in rural Missouri are more stressed and have fewer resources to cope.
It boils down to less access to close medical care and sometimes even the vehicles and funds needed to get there and pay for it, and that can be stressful and scary for an expectant mom.
Who's better qualified to talk about stress than the parents of three girls under age 3 who are being extremely well-behaved for the camera.
"You should have been here when I got home," Henry Goddard sais Wednesday evening with a laugh.
"Yeah," his wife Candace agreed. "There's definitely screaming days."
Candace had high-risk pregnancies with Aspen and Dallas.
"I had a blood clot that wrapped around my placenta and it broke and ripped the placenta away from my uterus," said Candace.
As a result, the Goddards were forced to commute almost weekly from their rural home near Camdenton to the University of Missouri hospital in Columbia for doctor's appointments.
Then Henry had a heart attack and another health condition that kept him from working and, understandably, Candace's anxiety was astronomical.
"It was that bad, yeah," she said.
The Goddards say, without Medicaid, food stamps, and Candace's parents, they wouldn't have survived it. Their story is all too familiar to Dr. Kristina Kaufmann.
"We've had patients who have a hard time finding food on a daily basis. We've had patients who have a hard time getting here because they live out in the country and their husband or boyfriend drives the only vehicle they have so they can't come on a regular basis. It's very difficult to get routine care and the care they need so it adds extra stress," said Kaufmann.
Her Buffalo clinic is Citizen Memorial Hospital's busiest. Most of the patients are rural and many are on Medicaid, unemployed, or under-employed. Kaufmann knows they're stressed.
"I think it's something providers have known for a while we just don't know how to fix the problem right now," she said.
The Goddards say they're lucky the problem sort of fixed itself. Henry healed up and got a full-time job, all three girls are healthy, and Candace's stress level is cautiously manageable.
"There's rough days but we make it through it. I wouldn't trade any of it," she said with a smile.
Kaufmann says there are a few small things that help women like Candace: car seat programs to make sure new moms struggling can legal transport their infants home, and public transportation to get to and from doctor's appointments.
Kaufmann says too much stress can stunt a baby's growth and, sometimes in extreme cases, even lead to death in the womb.