Pregnancy can be super stressful. Carrying another life with you everywhere you go is a ton of responsibility. The baby inside of you depends on you for everything so it is entirely understandable that you may be a little stressed out.
Stress is usually normal in small amounts, baby or no baby. You have to watch everything you do and eat to make sure it is okay for the baby. Thoughts of the future may also add to this stress.
Being constantly stressed can be bad for your baby. Stress makes your body go into a mode that causes it to release the same hormones that surge when you are in danger. Fight or flight mode can be dangerous for your baby if you are always triggering it.
Stress affects everybody in different ways. We also have our personal reactions to stress. Some are apt at managing it, but others can be a complete mess. Pregnancy can make it harder to deal with since your hormones are raging.
1. Stress and You
Many things can affect your stress level. Discomfort from that growing fetus inside you can be overwhelming. With back pain and nausea, pregnant life is stressful in itself. Hormones also make your moods fluctuate intensely.
All of this can contribute to your stress. Other things like problems at work or the unexpected trials of life can do the same. Managing your life is hard enough without a baby to complicate almost everything you do.
Stress can also manifest from traumatic experiences or even racism. Everyone does not have these experiences. Even an earthquake or hurricane may throw your life out of balance.
Previous conditions also affect stress. In the case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, many symptoms can disrupt your pregnancy and cause, well, even more stress than you may already have.
2. Stress and Your Baby
So how do all of these stressors affect your growing baby? Long-lasting or severe stress can cause immune system problems, which in turn may give your child an infection. Premature birth is one of the most common things that happen when you are super stressed.
The way that you deal with stress is pretty important, too. If you turn to alcohol or cigarettes, that can cause problems in your pregnancy. Using those substances as well as hard drugs are not safe for a developing fetus.
Some studies have shown that stress can cause children to have trouble paying attention during childhood. As well as brain or immune system development, these problems can be pretty serious.
Since constant stress can affect your stress management system, it can trigger a response that causes inflammation. This inflammation has been shown to cause lower developmental problems in the future, or even affect pregnancy health.
Poor coping skills can lead to low birth weight or premature birth. These are both things that you probably do not want to occur. Subtle brain differences may also occur.
3. Reducing Stress
Reducing all this pressure may seem next to impossible. How are you supposed to stop worrying about your baby, after all? Worrying is okay, but managing stress is critical.
Finding the source of your stress is the first step. If you do not know what is causing it, you cannot make it go away forever. Handling the discomforts of pregnancy is another initial step in stress relief.
Relaxing is a great stress reliever. When you are not doing things that make you stressed, your body can chill out and recover from it. Having a good support system to be there for you can help to cut down on stress.
Do not try to do things you do not have to do. Unnecessary actions can cause stress, especially if something goes wrong. Also, talk to your employer and make sure they will be able to accommodate you when you have to leave.
Taking care of everything as soon as you can also help to reduce stress. Taking childbirth classes can contribute to alleviating any fears you may have about the delivery date. Prenatal yoga or meditation will work wonders for stress relief. There are plenty of things you can do that will make you feel better.
Accept any help that is offered to you. The less you have to do, the more rest you can get. However, some things can make your pregnancy much more challenging that cannot be alleviated in any of these ways.
If you feel as if you may have depression or something else going on that is stressing you out, talk to your doctor. Depression sucks, to begin with; I cannot imagine how it is when your hormones are raging, and you are in pain. Any depression or anxiety can affect your baby as well.
Talking out your stress can really help. Even if you are just speaking to your doctor, it can help you get out any frustrations. Focusing on your baby and how it is doing can also help you feel less stressed.
Do not feel guilty about needing to relax; you have every right to take a break. Catching a break during stressful times will help things get back to normal (or as normal as they can be, at least).
Eating right and keeping up with exercise is great for stress. If your body does not have to fight off anything harmful, it will be in considerably less trouble. Exercise reduces stress even if you aren’t pregnant, and keeping yourself healthy is good for your baby.
Regardless of where your stress comes from, it is important that it be managed in the right way. Any negative stress reactions can have adverse effects on your baby, and that is the last thing you probably want as you are carrying your child around all the time.
All that hard work and discomfort you are going through will be totally worth it when you get to hold your baby in your arms for the first time. Staying relaxed and stress-free during pregnancy is entirely possible if you put your mind to it.