Pregnancy and stress go hand-in-hand. We all understand bringing a new being into this world is not an easy task. There are tons of questions that can stress you, from which foods that are good for the baby, to whether it is even safe to take the stairs during the third trimester. But, just like all other times of your life, while little stress is completely okay, too much of it is a cause for concern.
Too Much Of Anything Is Bad
Scientists have always talked about the emotional state of a pregnant mom, and how that can affect her unborn child. While mild and moderate stress do have positive effects on the growing fetus, it is only when it becomes chronic and severe that there is a cause for alarm.
Today, there are substantial studies to support that maternal anxiety and stress during pregnancy have both long-term and short-term effects on the baby.
Prenatal stress and perinatal outcomes
The following are some of the things that prenatal stress has been associated with:
- Shorter gestation and higher chances of preterm baby
- Smaller birth weight and length
- Increased risk
Prenatal stress and infant outcomes
Maternal stress can also affect the infant such as
- Temperamental issues and increased colickyness
- Attention deficiency and regulation along with emotional reactivity
- Lower scores on mental development
In fact, a study based on prenatal stress and child outcomes found that hyperactivity and inattention in boys, varied levels of emotional problems in girls and boys, conduct problems etc. are all due to prenatal anxiety and stress.
Moreover, a study has found that prenatal stress triggered due to natural disasters like experiencing famine or a major earthquake have increased the risk of the infant developing severe mental conditions (like schizophrenia and severe depression) in the later stages of their lives.
The Critical Window Of Time – The First Trimester
The first trimester of any pregnancy is a critical time, both for the mommy and the baby. This window of time is when stress exerts maximum effect. Healthcare providers concluded that these effects from stress impact the fetal development sometimes, sadly well before the woman even discovers her pregnancy. Stress during the first trimester increases the risk of developing neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, ADHD
Surviving Stress During Pregnancy
Here are ten positive steps you can take to reduce stress:
- Focus on yourself and your baby: Don’t feel guilty to indulge yourself and your baby. Take as much rest as you want. Sing and read to your baby. Try understanding what your body is trying to say. You deserve some time to yourself, so ask your partner to help you plan something that calms you.
- Talk, talk, talk: Talk to people you want to share your thoughts with. Sometimes, expressing yourself might be difficult, but talk to people who understand you better or can at least provide you some relief.
- Plan ahead: If you are working, plan ahead, so that you are not bogged down. Pregnancy fatigue is common, therefore, ensure that you have plenty of breaks in between your daily chores. If at any time, it feels too much, take help from people.
- Practice some controlled breathing: Every time that you feel stressed, you can take a break
- Stay healthy and eat good food: You are pregnant, and cravings would be sky high. Go ahead and indulge in them sometimes. Rest, try to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
If your stress levels have reached the threshold, and you feel overwhelmed, it’s time to involve professionals. Your doctors might be able to help you figure out treatments, which would ensure that your coping strategies are in place even before the baby is here.