Pregnancy is a time of change but it depends on how one adapts to the change, that matters a lot. It’s important to bear in mind that life doesn’t stop because you are pregnant, yet you do feel different because of it. It can be common for women who are pregnant to experience an increased level of stress, however too much stress for a prolonged period of time can start to make women feel uncomfortable and have impact on their overall health & wellbeing. Below are ways stress affects pregnant women.
- Stress increases the level of “stress hormone” known as cortisol. However cortisol may affect levels of progesterone that are produced to maintain pregnancy and the uterine growth in general. When this happens, premature birth or baby’s with low birth weights can be possible consequences.
- Stress can have negative impact on your unborn child as early as 17 weeks from conception, sometimes sooner as stress can also prevent people conceiving all together. Eating adequate amounts of food and nutrition can help prevent low birth weights and reduces the risk of intrauterine growth restriction too.
- Additional stress hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine can cause constricted blood vessels which potentially includes the blood flow through the umbilical cord to the baby. This can prevent the foetus from absorbing enough nutrients and oxygen from the mother and increases the risk of the of Intrauterine Growth Restriction, commonly known as IGR.
- Prolong stress can cause the immune system as well as a person’s digestive system to be weak. Although immune system protects us from infections, it is usually lowered during pregnancy thereby allowing stress to have more impacts. Meanwhile, chronic stress can result in a reduced amount of blood cells that help us fight off bacterial and viral infections, leaving you as a pregnant mother more exposed to illness.
- Stress initially triggers a chemical reaction in us that’s known as the fight & flight response. In preparation to deal with these stressors the nervous system releases hormones in order to combat it, and the more stressed you get the higher your cortisol levels will rise. For pregnant women, there are numerous physical reactions you can experience that need to be taken seriously such as increased heart rate or heart palpitations, alterations in ones breathing or chest pain, tightening of the muscles or achy muscles, dry mouth, hot or cold sweaty hands & feet, headaches, vision problems, fatigue, stomach problems and
With all the aforementioned effects, how can pregnant women manage stress?
- Take time out to rest
- Prioritise the necessities
- Get enough sleep
- Eat regular meals and keep yourself hydrated
- Find helpful relaxation techniques
- Talk to others about your worries or fears and don’t suffer or worry alone
- Prepare for the baby’s arrival
- Any exercise can be beneficial to the mind and body
- Have a good financial management
- Visit the hospital for proper check-ups