How Can You Reduce Stress During Pregnancy
Here are some ways to help you reduce stress:
- Know that the discomforts of pregnancy are only temporary. Ask your provider about how to handle these discomforts.
- Stay healthy and fit. Eat healthy foods, get plenty of sleep and exercise . Exercise can help reduce stress and also helps prevent common pregnancy discomforts.
- Cut back on activities you dont need to do. For example, ask your partner to help with chores around the house.
- Try relaxation activities, like prenatal yoga or meditation. They can help you manage stress and prepare for labor and birth.
- Take a childbirth education class so you know what to expect during pregnancy and when your baby arrives. Practice the breathing and relaxation methods you learn in your class.
- If youre working, plan ahead to help you and your employer get ready for your time away from work. Use any time off you may have to get extra time to relax.
The people around you may help with stress relief too. Here are some ways to reduce stress with the help of others:
How Does This Happen
What many of us have difficulty conceptualising is how something that is experienced in the mind can translate into both mental and physical health problems in the child. Some theories suggest physiological, metabolic and hormonal changes during pregnancy alter the course of fetal development, in effect programming the fetus to adapt and develop in a specific way.
Its suggested that experiencing stress results in increased circulation of the stress hormone cortisol, which then crosses the placenta to the fetus, changing the hormonal makeup and compromising fetal development, both neurological and physical.
Exposure to elevated cortisol could prepare the developing fetus for a world that the mother perceives as stressful. In this way, outcomes such as behavioural problems might be seen as adaptive. For example, if a child is programmed to survive in a world that is stressful, they must be hyper-vigilant to potential danger , hyperactive , prone to aggression if required to fight off predators, and more sensitive to their environment.
All these are qualities symptomatic of behavioural problems such as anxiety, ADHD and conduct disorder.
The Role Of Maternal Sensitive Interaction Behavior For Infant Stress Regulation
To pacify stressful experiences and to regulate their own affects, infants only have a limited repertoire of self-regulatory behaviors during the first months of life, such as hand-to-mouth-movements and non-nutritive sucking. Therefore, infants depend on the co-regulation of their caregivers, playing an important role in the development of stress regulation in infants . Empirical findings highlight the importance of specific patterns of motherchild interaction for infants affect regulation. For dyadic co-regulation, sensitive reactions of the caregivers are of special importance for the development of affect regulation in the infant as well as for behavioral and physiological reactions . Sensitive and responsive parents are described as paying attention toward the infants signals and reacting promptly and appropriate to them. If the caregiver cannot respond adequately to the childs emotions and interpersonal regulation fails, infants engage in self-directed stress regulation and develop lower tolerance to negative affect and lower stress regulation competencies .
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How Stress During Pregnancy Impacts Babies
Well, I have some goodand some not so goodnews for us all.
Stress during pregnancy can definitely have physical and developmental consequences for our kids. But it has to be pretty significant stress for that to be the caseand most importantly, there are things you can do both during and after pregnancy to mitigate this.
Lets start with the not-so-good part.
Theres lots of evidence that stress and mental health issues during pregnancy can affect your developing baby. As March of Dimes points out, stress can spike your blood pressure, which can lead to premature delivery. Stress can also lead to delivering a baby with a lower than optimal birth weight. Low birth weight and premature delivery can put your baby at risk for adverse health outcomes and developmental delays.
In addition to the physical/health aspects, elevated levels of stress can release high levels of cortisol into your bloodstream, which can have lasting impacts on your baby. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that experiencing mental health issues like depression during pregnancy may make your baby more prone to crying and that this crying may be more difficult to soothe.
What Are The Signs Of Depression
Depression can come on slowly. The symptoms are different for everyone. They can be mild, moderate or severe. Some of the more common signs are:
- changes in appetite, like eating too much or having little interest in food,
- changes in sleep, such as trouble sleeping or sleeping too much,
- lack of energy,
- feeling sad, hopeless or worthless,
- crying for no reason, and
- loss of interest or pleasure in activities you normally enjoy.
New moms with depression may have trouble caring for their baby. They might not want to spend time with their baby, which can lead to a baby who cries a lot.
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Types Of Stress That Could Affect You
Negative events such as a divorce, a serious illness of a closed one or death, financial difficulties, losing your job, etc, could cause serious stress. Sometimes catastrophes like hurricanes and earthquakes could strike, leading you to unexpectedly lose a loved one or lose your home- this can cause major stress. Long-lasting stress such as financial problems, being abused, having serious health problems or depression can cause serious stress-related complications in your pregnancy.
Some women feel serious stress about pregnancy. They may be worried about miscarriage, the health of their baby or about how theyll cope with labor and birth or becoming a parent. All of this can lead to serious and long lasting stress that can have an effect on your pregnancy and the health of your developing child. Some of these effects could potentially last life-long.
Certain stress-related hormones may play a role in causing complications during pregnancy. Serious stress may affect your immune system which protects you from infection. This can increase the chances of getting an infection of the uterus. This type of infection can cause premature birth.
Sometimes women think it fit to deal with stress by smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol or taking street drugs, which can lead to serious problems. If you are a pregnant woman, you are putting your and your childs life in danger.
Stress Types That Can Cause Pregnancy Problems
Since stress is a common feature accompanying pregnancy, it is fine as long as it does not become aggravated and is managed well. You are a human being, and you cannot eliminate daily emotional stress. During pregnancy, there might be a hike in the levels of stress which can be managed by calming down and relaxing. But at the same time, there are several types of stress that can wreak havoc in your pregnancy and lead to several harmful effects. Some of them include
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Emotional Stress During Pregnancy Associations With Maternal Anxiety Disorders Infant Cortisol Reactivity And Motherchild Interaction At Pre
- 1Institute of Medical Psychology, Center for Psychosocial Medicine, Heidelberg University Hospital, Heidelberg, Germany
- 2General Psychiatry, Center for Psychosocial Medicine, Heidelberg University Hospital, Heidelberg, Germany
- 3Department of Psychology, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Munich, Germany
Epigenetics Doesnt Have To Be Bad
It is easy to fall into the doom and gloom surroundings stories of what helps our children the most, but when it comes to genetics and epigenetics, it isnt something on which to dwell. There is little that can be changed about it, and the effects are often so minute as to be negligible.
Like many things that happen in the body, epigenetics has lots of good effects.
For example, the worms born in the experiment are much more tolerant to heat, and this is very beneficial if they live in a hot environment.
Beyond this, epigenetics is constantly changing thats why the mothers genes can be regulated differently when under stress than at other times. Just as our own environments are changing, so are our epigenomes, and we might not notice all the good it is doing.
Going back to the Dutch Hunger Winter, the offspring may have had a higher rate of average obesity and diabetes, but we dont know very much about whether other characteristics, such as resilience and ability to build good fats and muscle, were affected.
Epigenetic factors can pull us through hard times by bookmarking the most useful genes, but they can also be passed on in good times, like when we have access to nutritious food.
In fact, epigenetics is an important field in cancer research, because we may be able to alter the bookmarks to fight back against the disease.
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How To Reduce Stress
Some measures you can take to reduce your stress during pregnancy are
- Figure out with a little self-introspection: whats really causing your stress. Try to sort it out on your own or even better- consult an expert about it. Do not shy away from psychiatric help if necessary.
- Try alternative stress release therapies like yoga or go for a swim every evening to calm your nerves.
- Eat healthy food and keep fit. Take regular walks an d do some light exercise so that your brain and body get a proper workout as well as rest.
- Listen to music that soothes you and try to sing a little. Singing will calm your nerves and so will listening to soothing music.
- Talk to your husband, family and friends about things and issues that bother you. You will notice that many times, simply talking about something can make you feel better.
- Try this little trick: when you start worrying about something, ask yourself Is it in my control to change it? if yes, then stop worrying and start working towards it if not, then there is no use worrying about it or stressing yourself over it. Take a deep breath and try to let go of things that are out of your control.
- Read and watch movies about pregnancy and try to be as informed as you can about it. This will help you be prepared for whatever comes as a part of your pregnancy and help keep pregnancy related stress away.
Whats The Difference Between Baby Blues And Postpartum Depression
The baby blues is a mild form of postpartum depression that many new moms experience. It usually starts 1 to 3 days after the birth and can last for 10 days to a few weeks. With baby blues, many women have mood swingshappy one minute and crying the next. They may feel anxious, confused, or have trouble eating or sleeping. Up to 80% of new moms have the baby blues. Its common, and it will go away on its own.
About 13% of new mothers experience postpartum depression, which is more serious and lasts longer. You are at a greater risk if you have a family history of depression or have had depression before.
Some of the symptoms include:
- feeling like you cant care for your baby,
- extreme anxiety or panic attacks,
- trouble making decisions,
- hopelessness, and
- feeling out of control.
No one knows exactly what causes postpartum depression. If you think you have the symptoms, its important to get help right away. Postpartum depression needs to be treated. Talk to your doctor or call your local public health office.
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Preterm Labor And Premature Birth
One in eight babies born in the United States each year will be premature . In medical speak, this means that he or she will be born at less than 37 weeks gestation. There are lots of different reasons why babies are born prematurely, but many researchers believe that women who experience high levels of stress while pregnant are at high risk for experiencing a preterm birth. There’s a reason why pregnancy is supposed to last 40 weeks — babies born before this often do not have fully formed organs. The earlier a baby is born, the greater risk the child has of experiencing anything from minor breathing problems to lifelong diseases such as cerebral palsy.
Stress normally causes our brains to secrete hormones, such as corticotropin-releasing hormone . In pregnant women, CRH also helps to regulate the length of a pregnancy, and the amount naturally rises near the end of the third trimester to stimulate contractions. A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1999 revealed that women who delivered prematurely not only had very high levels of CRH early on in pregnancy, but they also reported high levels of stress.
Next, find out why stress can even be related to one of the worst things a woman can experience while pregnant.
How Can Stress Affect Your Pregnancy
Feeling stressed is common during pregnancy because pregnancy is a time of many changes. Your family life, your body and your emotions are changing. You may welcome these changes, but they can add new stresses to your life.
High levels of stress that continue for a long time may cause health problems, like high blood pressure and heart disease. During pregnancy, stress can increase the chances of having a premature baby or a low-birthweight baby . Babies born too soon or too small are at increased risk for health problems.
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What To Do If You Experienced Toxic Stress During Pregnancy
Of course, there are many of us who did experience this type of long-term, toxic stress during pregnancy. If thats you, and you are wracked with guilt about what types of impacts your pregnancy stress might have had on your baby, I want you to know that experiencing life circumstances that trigger that kind of stress is not your fault. The same goes with being a person who experiences mental illness.
You are a good mom, whatever life threw you during your pregnancy.
I think its also important to remember that there are powerful things you can do to mitigate the effects that your stressful pregnancy might have had on your baby. If your baby is extra fussy, stressed, and more prone to crying than other babies, things like spending time skin-to-skin with your baby, and holding them as much as possible can have wonderful effects.
Research has shown that holding your baby and doing skin-to-skin time has been shown to slow down their heartbeat, help them regulate their temperature, and decrease crying. Whether its stress during pregnancy, or a difficult/traumatic birth, spending time skin to skin can be incredibly healing for both moms and babies.
What Happened With Worms
Prahlad and her team wanted to learn more about how this happened. They did so by testing how female ringworms respond to heat stress.
They found that the memory of useful genes when it was hot became ingrained in eggs, even before the egg was fertilised. This happened because a protein called heat shock transcription factor became upregulated when it was hot and told certain genes to express proteins that would help the future embryo.
Interestingly, HSF1 also recruited another enzyme that normally erases bookmarked memories from an embryos genome. When under stress, the enzyme did something different.
We found that HSF1 collaborates with the that normally act to reset the memory of gene expression during embryogenesis to, instead, establish this stress memory, says Prahlad.
One of the genes affected encodes for the insulin receptor, changing how often it was switched on.
Normally in humans, insulin receptors are very important in regulating the metabolism. However, this was altered in the worm eggs so that the embryos responded less to insulin and switched over to relying on other responses that may not have been as quick, but also have long-term resilience.
What we found all the more remarkable was that if the mother was exposed to stress for a short period of time, only progeny that developed from her cells that were subjected to this stress in utero had this memory, says Prahlad.
The progeny of these progeny had lost this memory.
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The Dangers Of Stress During Pregnancy
Stress causes your body to release hormones that prepare your body to fight or flight. When stress is managed, these hormones dissipate and your body returns to a balanced, healthy state. However, severe stress that lasts can negatively affect your growing baby, increasing your risk of preterm labor or delivering a baby with low birth weight.
Severe stress while expecting can increase your risk of preterm labor or delivering a baby with low birth weight. Manage your #PregnancyStress with these 5 tips from an OB/GYN expert: https://bit.ly/2LbCk9L #LiveWellHealthy.
Pregnant women with high stress levels are also more likely to seek pain interventions during delivery because theyre unable to tolerate pain the same way they would in a healthy mental state. This can lead to disappointment and frustration if pain intervention wasnt part of your original birth plan. And, the combination of both stress and a discouraging delivery experience can increase your risk of postpartum depression and anxiety.
Stress During Pregnancy: How Does It Affect Your Baby
Pregnancy brings many changes to your life and to the life of your loved ones. Your body, your emotions and the life of those around you, especially your family are changing. As welcome as these changes are, they could bring some unwelcomed guests too- such as stress.
Feeling stressed is quite common during pregnancy. But too much stress could have lasting effects on you. Stress can make you have trouble sleeping, gives you headaches, or you could lose your appetite as a result of stress or maybe start to overeat.
High levels of stress that arent treated have been associated with health problems like high blood pressure and heart disease. When youre pregnant, stress can increase the chances of a preterm birth or a low birth weight baby . Babies born preterm or underweight are more susceptible to ill health and health problems.
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