Peace and relaxation are absolutely essential for an expectant mother. Stress during a pregnancy can have serious and life-long health consequences. Listed below are three ways in which stress can negatively impact pregnant women and their babies.
Stress Before a Pregnancy
Stress can impact a baby even before it has even been conceived—chronic stress can alter a woman’s ovulation process, impacting her fertility and making it difficult for her to become pregnant. Also, according to a new study from the University of California – Los Angeles, once a woman does become pregnant the stress she experienced before she conceived could still harm the fetus. Therefore, in order for a woman to have a healthy pregnancy she must start reducing her stress well in advance of even conceiving.
Stress During the Pregnancy Harms the Baby
A little stress during pregnancy is normal. In fact, a woman’s cortisol levels typically increase up to four times during a normal pregnancy. However, when a woman’s stress level rises too far it can harm the baby. It reduces blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients to the fetus and leads to low birth weight and poor mental and cognitive outcomes. In an Australian study, the children from stressed pregnancies scored lower on motor development, which can negatively impact daily motor tasks such as writing, running, and throwing. This stress from pregnancy impacted the children long after they were born, even up to the age of 17 years old.
Stress During the Pregnancy Harms the Mothers
High levels of stress during a pregnancy can also have large impacts on the women. One study analyzed stressed expecting women who themselves were born with a low birth weight due to pregnancy stress. The women in this study experienced long-term health problems after the pregnancy, including problems with their cardiovascular, metabolic, and kidney health. The researchers believe that more attention should be paid to complicated pregnancies and the effects it has on women’s long-term health.
Are you or someone you love pregnant and stressed out? Consider these five Mindful tips for relaxing and improving the health of the expectant mother and the little one.