Bringing a new person into the world is no easy task. Momma's you know...you worry about everything. People smiling at you, saying: "It will change your life forever!", "Say goodbye to sleeping!","There's no room for you momma, na-a...no time!"...
You worry if the food you're eating is safe, good and healthy enough...You're not sure if exercise is safe...You don't know how you will juggle work and parenthood once the baby arrives...
So much stress...
However, does this affect you? Your baby?
DOES STRESS AFFECT YOU AND YOUR BABY?
Some stress during pregnancy is normal. The problem arises if stress is constant.
The studies have shown it can have a negative effect on you and your baby.
LET'S GET INTO DETAILS
When you're stressed, your body goes into "fight or flight"* mode. As a consequence, your body sends out a burst of cortisol and other stress hormones (the same hormones that surge when you're in danger).
*that's the response of the sympathetic nervous system to a stressful event, preparing the body to react quickly to life-threatening situations, by sending a blast of fuel to your muscles and making your heart pump faster.
(Imagine: "You are being chased by a tiger".)
If you can deal with your stress, you're alright and move on...your stress response decline and your body gets back into balance.
ON THE OTHER HAND
If you're still "running from a tiger" (staying in fight or flight mode) in your day to day life, your body's stress management system could be altered, causing it to overreact and trigger an inflammatory response.
STRESS DURING PREGNANCY
Inflammation during pregnancy has been linked to poorer pregnancy health and developmental problems in babies down the road.
"There are some data to show that higher chronic stressors in women and poor coping skills to deal with those stressors may be associated with lower birth weight and with delivering earlier." (1)
A study, which observed prenatal maternal stress (PNMS) associated with ADHD and autistic traits in early childhood found that: "PNMS, in the form of typical stressful life events, such as divorce or a residential move, show a small but significant association with both autistic traits and ADHD behaviours independently, in offspring at age 2 years." (2)
There are also some data showing increased susceptibility to asthma and allergies during childhood. (3)
WHAT ABOUT MOTHER?
According to the study (4), moms who were stressed or anxious during pregnancy are more vulnerable to developing postnatal depression.
HOW TO REDUCE STRESS IN PREGNANCY
The difficulty with stress is that you can't just decide to "stop". But you can and should try to control it as much as you can. Find a solution that works for you: meditation, talk, pregnancy class, do some breathing exercise, take a warm bath, have a cup of tea, curl up with a book and relaax!
Taking about books and reading...a book by Susan Andrews:« Stress Solutions for Pregnant Moms: How Breaking Free from Stress Can Boost Your Baby’s Potential« should be your go to ;)
1. Latendresse, G. (2009). The interaction between chronic stress and pregnancy: Preterm birth from a biobehavioral perspective. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2651684/
2. Ronald, A., Pennell, C. E., & Whitehouse, A. J. (2011, January 19). Prenatal Maternal Stress Associated with ADHD and Autistic Traits in early Childhood. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3153828/
3. Martino, D., & Prescott, S. (2011, March). Epigenetics and prenatal influences on asthma and allergic airways disease. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21362650
4. Austin, M., Tully, L., & Parker, G. (2007, August). Examining the relationship between antenatal anxiety and postnatal depression. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17196663