How Stress Affects The Development Of A Fetus

Peaceful and stress-free pregnancy is what every pregnant woman dreams of. It is normal for anyone to be a bit stressed during pregnancy. However, being anxious day in and day out may not be good for you and your baby. Now, a new research gives you another reason to stay away from unwanted stress and strain. According to the research, babies are physically affected by the stress level of their mother during pregnancy.

The researchers looked into the variable patterns in the growth rates of disadvantaged offspring across 719 studies on 21 mammals. According to their observation, stress leaves different outcomes before birth, after birth, and after weaning, depending on the timing of the stress. Any strain at the start of a woman’s term speeds up the growth of the baby. And stress happening toward the end slows down the growth. Let’s delve deeper.


Stress During Late Gestation

Prenatal stress in late gestation results in slower growth in the womb and later during infancy. This is because too much stress deviates mother’s energy from the baby. Thus, the baby will be denied that extra care from mom. However, when the baby reaches nutritional independence or when the baby no longer needs nursing, this may not have any effect on them. The little one will grow at the same rate as any other normal kid.

The research, thus, found that any stress to mom during late gestation period leads to slow growth during dependent phases. But, it does not affect growth later.


Stress During Early Gestation

Strain during late gestation may not leave a lasting impact. But, that is not the case with prenatal maternal stress in early gestation. It causes the fetus to be entirely reprogrammed to deal with a reduced life expectancy. The babies of those mothers who were under stress switch to an accelerated pace of life. They mature and grow faster than unchallenged offsprings to ensure that it reproduces before it dies. Even after birth, they follow this growth pattern. And they overshoot the usual body size for age throughout development.

Thus, the study finds that stress during early gestation results in largely unaffected growth rates during dependence, but accelerated growth and increased size after weaning.


Significance Of The Study

The comparative study explains that prenatal maternal stress during late gestation may accelerate the growth in kids. And the study concludes that all stressors have the same impact on the mother and the baby. Whether the stress comes from food restriction or any other adversity, the effect remains the same. Even when we experimentally manipulate to increase their stress hormones, the growth of the baby will be affected in a similar way. The study, thus, highlights the role of maternal stress during gestation. Since it leaves various effects on infant physiology that extend well into adulthood, it is important to avoid it. Wondering how to avoid stress during pregnancy? Here are some tips.

Reducing Stress During Pregnancy

Eat well: You need to keep your energy level high by feeding your body well. Follow a healthy diet. Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish and seafood help you fight depression.


Get rest: Every day find some time to focus on your baby. Talk to your baby. There is no other better way to unwind than chatting with your little one. Don’t worry, he/she can hear you.

Never skip sleep: Getting proper sleep is very important. Always listen to your body. If your body is exhausted, go to bed.


Share your thoughts: If you have worries about the health of your baby, talk to your healthcare provider and keep your worries away. Also, share all the concerns with your partner.

Exercise: As they say, a healthy mind in a healthy body. Physical activities can improve your mood and keep your spirits high.


Spend time with friends and family: Being pregnant does not mean that you need to lead a secluded life. Have fun with your family. Go out with your friends. Enjoy every moment of pregnancy.