Stress during pregnancy: here’s how it can affect the unborn baby

Pregnancy is an incredibly transformative time in a woman’s life, marked by both excitement and anxiety. It is essential for expectant mothers to prioritize their emotional well-being. Research has shown that a mother’s stress during pregnancy can potentially impact the growth and development of her unborn baby. We look at the different ways maternal stress can harm the fetus and how to reduce prenatal stress for a healthy pregnancy.

Health Shots spoke to Dr. Sakshi Goel, Senior Consultant, MBBS, MS Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital, Delhi who revealed that stress during pregnancy is one of the most common causes of childbirth premature and even low birth weight.

Stress during pregnancy

When a pregnant woman is stressed, her body releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Although these hormones can be helpful in certain situations, chronic stress during pregnancy can cause an excess of these substances to cross the placental barrier. High levels of stress hormones in the womb can upset the delicate balance of the developing fetus, potentially affecting its neurological and physiological development.

Stress can increase your pregnancy problems. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Side effects of stress during pregnancy on the baby

Here are 3 ways a mother’s stress can affect the unborn child:

1. Impact on brain development

Studies suggest that maternal stress can negatively influence fetal brain development. The developing brain is very sensitive to stress hormones and exposure to high levels of cortisol can affect brain structure and function. Dr. Goel explains, “Prolonged exposure to stress hormones can impair the formation of vital brain structures and connections, with long-term consequences for a child’s cognitive, emotional and behavioral functions. »

2. Premature birth and low birth weight

One of the most significant effects of maternal stress on the unborn child is low birth weight. Dr. Goel says, “Stress during pregnancy is one of the leading causes of low birth weight. Low birth weight increases the risk of developmental delays, birth complications and future health problems. Studies have shown that babies born with low birth weight are at a higher risk of developing chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

3. Impact on the emotional health of the child

A mother’s stress during pregnancy can impact the unborn child in a variety of ways, including mentally and emotionally. Dr. Goel says, “The emotional health of the child can also be affected by maternal stress. Research indicates that children born to stressed mothers may be more prone to anxiety, depression, and behavioral problems later in life. therefore, managing stress during pregnancy is crucial to promoting a healthier environment for both mother and unborn child.

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How to manage stress during pregnancy?

Managing stress during pregnancy is crucial for the well-being of mother and baby. Here are 7 tips to help you reduce stress:

1. Prioritize self-care. Engage in activities that bring joy and relaxation.
2. Stay physically active. Regular exercise can reduce stress and improve mood.
3. Look for help. Talk about your feelings with friends, family, or professionals.
4. Practice mindfulness. Meditation or deep breathing exercises can calm the mind.
5. Maintain a balanced diet. Eat nutritious foods to support your health.
6. Get enough rest. Make sure you get enough sleep to rejuvenate body and mind.
7. Limit exposure to stressors. Avoid unnecessary triggers and focus on positive experiences.

Follow these tips and stay happy throughout your pregnancy journey!

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