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Stress During Pregnancy

Stress During Pregnancy

Stress is a common feeling during pregnancy. Physical discomforts and other changes in daily life can cause stress during pregnancy. Some types of stress may cause serious health problems like high blood pressure and ultimately to premature birth.

Causes of Stress

While there can be many reasons for stress, the common ones are

  • You may be dealing with discomforts during pregnancy like morning sickness, constipation, tiredness, back ache etc.
  • Your hormones are changing, which can cause mood changes. Mood swings can make it harder to handle stress
  • You may be worried about what to expect during labour and how to take care of baby
  • If you are working, you have to manage job tasks and priorities, prepare your teams to handle tasks during your maternity leave
  • You may worry about how and what you eat, drink and feel how these will affect your baby
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD)

Disorders that develop after experiencing a shock, scary or dangerous events like rape, abuse, natural disasters, terrorist attack or death of a loved one. Women who have PTSD may be more likely to have serious anxiety than others during pregnancy.

What types of stress can cause pregnancy problems?

Stress is not all bad. When you handle it right, a little stress can help you take on new challenges. Common stress during pregnancy probably would not add to pregnancy problems. However, serious types of stress during pregnancy may increase your chances of problems. These are serious issues.

  1. Negative events in life – like divorce, serious illness or death in family, losing job or home
  2. Catastrophic events – like earth quake, flood, hurricanes, terrorist attacks
  3. Long-Lasting serious stress – can be caused by monetary problems, physical or mental abuse, being homeless or other serious health issues
  4. Depression or anxiety – both conditions make it hard to take care of yourselves and body. These are common and treatable. So, talk to your doctor if you have such conditions before or during pregnancy
  5. Racism

Effects of stress on pregnancy

Stress during pregnancy alter the hormonal composition in mother and have detrimental effect on the intelligence and emotions of the baby for an entire life. When under stress, levels of adrenalin, noradrenalin and cortisol shoots up and serotonin falls down. These hormones reach the blood stream of the baby.

Common effects on mother
  1. Serious or long-lasting stress may affect your immune system which increase the chances of infections
  2. Normal pregnancy discomforts may feel even worse
  3. You may have problem with eating – like not eating the required quantity of food or eating too much – resulting in under-weight or over-weight during pregnancy. This may lead to gestational diabetes and preterm labour
  4. Stress may lead to high blood pressure which can cause pre-eclampsia, premature birth and low birth-weight babies
Effects on baby

Various studies suggest that problems outlined below may happen

  1. Preterm delivery
  2. Low birth-weight
  3. Emotional and behavioural problems in future
  4. Increased risk of infection and allergies
  5. Reduced brain volume, head circumference and reduced IQ
  6. Mental and Cognitive Defects
  7. Lowers motor development skills like writing, running etc.
  8. Studies show that if you experience stress in the first trimester, the baby may suffer from schizophrenia and if in the third trimester, the baby may suffer from Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

How to reduce stress during pregnancy

  1. Focus on your baby – from about 23 weeks, your baby can hear your voice. So, try chatting or singing to your bump
  2. Get enough rest and sleep
  3. Talk about it – talk openly about your concerns to your partner, parents or friends
  4. Eat well – eat healthy food and keep up the required level
  5. Try gentle exercises like swimming, pregnancy yoga, walking etc.
  6. Try complimentary therapies like massage, spa etc.
  7. If your stress level has risen to a point where you feel overwhelmed, talk to your doctor and take counselling or psychotherapies
  8. Know that the discomfort are only temporary and handle things wisely
  9. Cut back on activities you do not need to do; for example ask your partner to help you in the household chores
  10. Try relaxation activities like prenatal yoga or meditation
  11. Take a child-birth education class. So, you know what to expect during pregnancy and when the baby arrives

Hope this article is useful. God bless you and child.

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Dr. Neethu Arun (BAMS, M.Sc), Chief Consultant, Praanadha Ayurveda Hospital is an expert in Ayurveda, Astrology and Psychology. She has more than ten years of experience in Hospital treatments. She started to learn Ayurveda from her childhood. Having graduated from the Calicut University (in Kerala), she is an expert in handling Developmental Disorders and Lifestyle Diseases. Specialized in Gynaecology & problems related to Women as well as Astrology & Psychology


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