How Stress During Pregnancy Can Affect Your Baby
Even though we do not fully understand all the different mechanisms that take place when were under stress, enough scientific studies suggest that prolonged and intense stress can affect the way a baby develops.
One thing we know for sure is that the stress hormone cortisol reaches your babys bloodstream through the placenta.
The additional strain of dealing with traumatic and intense events that in many cases originate before pregnancy can influence your overall health and add to the effects of the stress. Recent evidence suggests that stress, when it is intense and lasts for extended periods, can leave its mark on how your babys brain develops.
Again, it’s important to note that levels of stress that these studies included catastrophic events like massive fires or hurricanes and not the more moderate levels of stress that you might experience from worrying about the bills or about your relationship.
Prenatal Emotional Stress Index
The Prenatal Emotional Stress Index is a self-report questionnaire assessing emotional stress during pregnancy . It was applied at the first measurement time to assess maternal emotional stress during pregnancy. retrospectively. The questionnaire consists of 11 items per pregnancy trimester measuring anxiety, sadness, joy, stress, and tension via visual analogous scales ranging from 0 to 100%. The scale values are the mean item responses per trimester. Cronbachs was = 0.91 for the first, = 0.92 for the second and = 0.93 for the third trimester, indexing excellent internal consistency. Average scores were M = 31.92 for the first, M = 30.41 for the second and M = 31.63 for the third trimester. The intercorrelations between pregnancy trimesters were as follows: the first trimester significantly correlated with the second and third trimester as well as the second trimester correlated significantly with the third trimester . A composite score averaged over the three trimesters was used for the analyses This composite score reached an excellent internal consistency and ranged from min = 2.42 to max = 86.97 .
Can Stress During Pregnancy Hurt My Baby
Regular, everyday stress during pregnancy, such as;stressing to make a work deadline or finish the babys nursery, wont hurt your baby.
But extreme , chronic and long-term stress can, in some cases, increase the risk of:
- Developmental delays in the baby
Babies born too soon or too small can face more complications than full-term, normal-weight newborns.
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Spend A Day With Friends
When it comes to dealing with stress, one thing is certain – if youre keeping what is stressing you to yourself there is little chance of changing things. If you stay trapped in anxious thoughts about struggling to find new ways to earn money or worrying about being the perfect mom, you’ll only end up being more stressed.
Sharing your worries with close friends helps because a good friend can understand you, offer you advice, and most importantly give you a different perspective. Hearing how your friend might deal with what you are facing can help you see that the stress is manageable and that you too have the capacity to overcome it. Enjoying a day out with your friends and doing things you enjoy will remind you of who you really are and make it easier for you to cope with the pregnancy challenges that lie ahead.
Ask Friends And Family For Help
Pregnancy is a time when you should not be facing all the stress alone. Pregnancy is not the time for you to be too proud to ask for help or to accept the help offered to you. Stress is a sign that you are in a situation that is stretching your capacities too thin.
The people closest to you, your partner, family or close friends can take the weight off your shoulders at least for a while. Reaching out for help also means admitting you are not entirely in control and this is one of the concessions from which you can only benefit. Even when your partner cant complete chores perfectly, dont nag and waste the chance to take some time for yourself. Your social network, friends, family, and neighbors can be of very practical help as well.
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Relieve Stress With Pregnancy Massage
If there is one thing that comes to mind when thinking about an ideal stress antidote, its a soothing massage.
Not only can massage help to relieve muscle and back pain that often accompanies pregnancy, massage can also be a great way to give yourself a relaxing treatment you deserve.
One critical thing to consider when choosing a massage therapist during your pregnancy is to ensure your therapist has experience with an antenatal massage or uses pregnancy-safe massage positions and tables.
In case you are at risk of miscarriage or face another complication in your pregnancy, its best to avoid massages unless approved explicitly by your midwife or ob-gyn.
Keep In Mind That Communication Is Key
Since this event is life-changing and can have a drastic impact on your relationship with your partner, it is essential that you keep the doors of communication wide open. If you and your partner do not talk or communicate and keep your feelings and problems to yourself, then your relationship is bound to be stressful.
To deal with relationship stress during pregnancy, it is crucial that you communicate, tell your partner how you are feeling and what you want and your partner. In addition, you should focus on your feelings and be considerate of your situation.
Now, you have to understand there are hardly any scripted guidelines on how to avoid stress during pregnancy. It depends entirely on the partners to find out how to deal with pregnancy stress.
Here, communication is the only key to address relationship problems while pregnant to smartly handle relationship stress during pregnancy.
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Why Stress Is Bad For You And Bad For Baby
A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry asked women to answer questions based on their stress levels.
Researchers then interviewed the children when they turned 30 to see if any diagnoses of personality disorder were noted. In total 40 severe cases were found in the subjects.
The one thing they all had in common was a parent with prolonged high levels of stress during pregnancy.
Thankfully such extreme cases of prolonged high level stress are rare but it does highlight how damaging it can be to your unborn baby.
We spoke to 6 experts to get their top tips to help you deal with stress during pregnancy.
Taking Care Of Your Mental Health During Pregnancy
Pregnancy brings a mix of feelings, and not all of them are good. If you’re feeling worried, you’re not alone. Worry is common, especially during a woman’s first pregnancy or an unplanned one. It can be even harder if you’re dealing with depression or anxiety.
If you’re feeling worried, sad, or nervous, talk to someone about it and know when to reach out for help.
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Make Time For Each Other
Amidst the visit to the hospital, gynecologist, and Lamaze classes, it is essential that you and your partner take some time out of your busy day and spend that time with each other.
Keep in mind that even though you are carrying the baby, your partner is also going through changes, such as the feeling of having a baby and being a father.
It is important that you talk to each other and spend time with each other to let the other person know that they are not alone. Go out for a movie or a romantic dinner in a fancy restaurant and enjoy being with each other.
Breathe Before You Speak
It is no surprise that pregnancy hormones can make you moody and cranky and emotional, so when you feel a mood swing taking place, stop, breathe and ask yourself Is this really who I am?. This simple trick can prevent a lot of arguments and issues and can help you deal with stress even before it starts.
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Think About The Positive Side:
You need to know that this hard phrase will soon take a beautiful direction. Think about the moment when you will hold that baby in your arms and how the small hand of the baby will slowly twirl around your finger. Imagine the feeling of getting called a mom and about all the beautiful memories that you will create together as a family.
Try to remain positive and think more and more about the bright side. It is due to these hard pregnancy days will soon pass away, giving you a cute baby that will stay with you forever.
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How To Deal With Stressful Relationship During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a glowing phase for many couples alike. This is the time that couples bond and come closer to each other. It is the time when two people realize that they will be bringing and raising another human life, and the woes of pregnancy and the expectations that come with a baby are bound to change the relationship dynamics.
The changes in your body, the obvious curves, your bulging tummy, and the raging hormones that you might experience in your body have the power to throw you off balance when it comes to nurturing your relationship during pregnancy with your partner. At one point you and your partner may feel connected, and in another moment you may feel emotionally exhausted and isolated.
If you and your husband cannot agree on even one single thing and are constantly fighting, then dont worry because these fights are very common. Having a baby is a life-changing event and can drastically change a couples relationship during pregnancy.
At the same time,; a supportive relationship matters during pregnancy. The pregnancy hormones can impact would-be mothers differently. Some might experience a mix of high and low emotions while a few others might feel vulnerable or anxious.
Such stress during pregnancy can affect the otherwise healthy and hearty relationship between the couples.
Labor Is Freaking You Out
First, remember that;every;pregnant woman is nervous about delivering her baby . Watters suggests this meditation exercise to help you get in tune with your body:
Get in a comfortable position, either seated or lying down on your side. Tense one area of your body for 2-3 seconds and then let that area relax. Move from your toes up to your face, tensing and relaxing each area.
This will come in very handy when you’re in labor, because it’ll help you learn how to relax all areas of your body, conserve energy, and make the work of birthing your baby easier. The breathing exercises can also help you focus and relax. Visualizing an easy and smooth delivery can be very powerful, reassuring and relaxing when that anxiety arises.
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Talk To Someone Else About Whats Bothering You
Sometimes, the things that stress you the most are all in your head. When you think about giving birth, you worry about what might happen, and all of a sudden, youre stressed. Talking to someone else about whats bothering you is a great way to get these worries off your chest and relieve stress in the process. Choose someone with whom you feel comfortable talking about these sensitive issuesa partner, a friend, even a therapistand get it all out. Youll be surprised by how much better youll feel just by putting your fears and concerns on the table.
Work Is Insane And Your Boss Is Driving You Nuts
Taking just a couple of minutes for some deep breathing and gentle;stretching;during a hectic day will help instill the mental clarity to organize your thoughts, says Kim Watters, Fitness Manager at Red Mountain Resort in Utah. Here are her three favorite officefriendly stretches. Hold each one for at least 20 seconds.
Abs and side stretch:;Sit near the front edge of your desk chair. Lengthen your arms overhead and exaggerate your reach. Now stretch up through your right hand, lengthening the right side of your body more while pressing down with your left heel. Switch hands and repeat to the other side.
Neck stretch:;Sit near the front edge of your chair. Raise your shoulders up and press down. Repeat a few times. Then roll them forward, up, back and then down. Repeat a few times. Turn your head as far to the right as possible. Repeat to the left. Now, tilt your head to the right and then repeat to the left. Finally, tilt your chin down and then pull it in towards the chest.
Back stretch:;Sit forward on your chair with your legs a little wider than your hips. Lean forward from the hips and drop your torso down so your head is resting between your thighs . Let your head and arms hang down toward the floor.
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Tips To Cope With Pregnancy Stress
Ensure you have the right support system. Pregnancy is full of ups and downs and having the right support around you will help you navigate the highs and lows you face. Your support system could comprise your partner or spouse, close family and friends, your doctor, books or even a fridge loaded with your favorite food. Try and set up your support system early in your pregnancy and keep turning to them whenever required. If you need to vent out your stress or frustrations, you know who to turn to.;
Read and prepare yourself. Arm yourself with knowledge about pregnancy, labour, childcare by reading up research papers or asking questions to your doctor. The more you read and understand the more prepared you will be. As a result, you shall feel less stressed and your worries and concerns will dissipate.
Meditate. Meditation is extremely effective at decreasing stress levels, so why not give it a try when pregnant? It gives you a break from your day, allowing you to focus on yourself and your thoughts for a while, without any judgment. Its simple and takes only a small amount of time, and you can even meditate at home!
Eat well. When faced with pregnancy stress, you might end up overeating or ignoring food cues completely. This, mixed with the various hormones running through your body at such a time may make you hangry. Instead, make sure you eat nutritious meals at regular intervals, with proper water intake as well. And yes, you should even give into cravings now and then.
Relaxation To Deal With Stress During Pregnancy
For example, you can acquire some relaxation techniques that can help you calm down and make yourself less stressed. Yoga is one of the coolest ways to do this because yoga has been proven to have positive effects on both the mind and the body. Not only that, but yoga has also been proven to be very effective at reducing stress during pregnancy.
Stress relief through relaxation techniques is one of the most effective ways to manage the stress you are going through during pregnancy. Stress relief through relaxation techniques is something that you should not overlook when you are trying to cope with your pregnancy.
If you learn a few relaxation techniques and put them into practice, you will know how to handle stress during pregnancy better and have more fun during this particular moment.
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Plan Your Way To Less Stress During Pregnancy
13. Learn how to eliminate stress during pregnancy by making a list of all of the things that are stressing you. Then organize them, from big to small . Brainstorm possible solutions and all the ways you might solve the issue, tackling smaller stressors first. Taking first steps toward solutions will make you feel less anxious.
14. Consider taking a childbirth education, breastfeeding, or baby-care class, which can help demystify these new areas and boost your confidence.
That’s A Hard Feeling Tell Me About It
While school drop-off is not the time to wallow in the hard feelings of not wanting to go to school, if your child brings up concerns after school or on the weekend, take some time to listen to them.
Children can very easily be swayed by our leading questions, so keep your questions very general and neutral so that your child can tell you what they’re really feeling.
They may reveal that they just miss you while they’re gone, or may tell you that a certain person or kind of work is giving them anxiety.
Let them know that you empathize with how they feel, but try not to react too dramatically. If you think there is an issue of real concern, talk to the teacher about it, but your reaction can certainly impact the already tentative feelings about going to school.