belly of a pregnant woman
Credit: Petr Kratochvil

We all know that stress is inevitably part of one’s day to day life. But, when a woman is pregnant, there are several factors that may intensify one’s current tensions or anxieties. This may cause a problem not only for your health, but for your unborn child as well. With that being said, in this article, you will read about the effects of too much stress on your baby and at the same time discover some ways on how to cope with this dilemma. 

How does stress affect your baby's development?

One of the most common effects of extreme stress during pregnancy is miscarriage. This is especially true in the first trimester or the early stage of pregnancy. What about in the latter stages? Too much pressure or tension may lead to either premature labor or your baby may have abnormal weight. According to most studies these two are the most common problems brought by stress. 

Aside from those mentioned above, stress can also bring forth other health-related problems. In one study published in the Clinical Endocrinology journal, it was apparently deduced that exposure to high levels of stress hormones specifically cortisol can affect a fetus’ brain development. In another study, they discovered that babies may develop asthma or allergies if their mother is experiencing prenatal stress. However, keep in mind that, these studies still need further researches. Nonetheless, it is still best to avoid stressful situations and as much as possible always be in a relaxed state while nurturing your unborn child. 

expecting mother
Credit: Petr Kratochvil

Coping with stress during pregnancy

As mentioned earlier, there are several factors that may trigger emotional or physical distress for pregnant women. But, this doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything about it. Maintaining a stress-free day is not easy, but it is doable. So, if you are experiencing mild to extreme stress while nurturing your unborn child, here are some tips on how you can cope or deal with it.

  • Organize your schedule – Having a hectic schedule is one of the most common triggers of stress. When you’re pregnant, time management is very crucial. Remember, you have to give yourself ample time to rest and do several prenatal care activities.  For that reason, as early as your first trimester, it is best to list and prioritize your daily activities. If it is not very important, you can use that time to rest and nurture your unborn child.
  • Healthy lifestyle – You’ve probably heard a lot of people say: “live a healthy lifestyle” a thousand times whether you're pregnant or not. There’s nothing wrong with this statement. In fact, this is actually the best advice one can give you especially when you’re dealing with stressful situations. How so? 

    First and foremost, some people cope with stress by smoking, drinking or taking prohibited drugs. Although these products will help you relax for a while, it induces addictive effects. This is unhealthy and harmful not only for you, but for your unborn child as well. Having said that, why not opt for exercise or anti-stress activities to help you relax instead of taking these substances? It’s good for your body especially on a long run.

    Your diet and other prenatal care supplements are also important. As you know, extreme stress can substantially affect your health in a negative way. Without proper nutrition, both you and your child’s immune system and overall health will go downhill. Hence, avoiding harmful substances and eating a highly nutritious diet is a must especially when you have a growing baby inside your belly.

  • Prepare yourself – Nurturing a human being inside you is not an easy task. Oftentimes, lack of planning beforehand can bring forth extreme panic or anxiety. For that reason, preparing yourself for birth and family life is the best tool you can use to handle stressful situations. Take childbirth for example. It is a fact that this is a painful procedure. To overcome your fear, you can consult your obstetrician and ask them to give you a detailed preview of what will happen during your labor. You can also attend prenatal classes to further enhance your knowledge about childbirth and parenthood. But, remember, labor is just the first step. The early stages of parenthood can also be very stressful. You have to prepare yourself for this phase as well.

  • Anti-stress activities – Of course, this list is not complete without some examples of anti-stress activities for pregnant women. Massage therapy is one of the best activities you can do. Not only will it improve your mood. It will also help relieve pain, reduce swelling and regulate your hormone levels. However, always keep in mind that prenatal massage therapies have some risks. For that reason, you should only opt for competent therapists who have in-depth knowledge and skill to do this specific type of therapy. Lastly, you should always consult your obstetrician before getting any forms of massage therapy.

    Meditation is also a good stress-relieving activity you can do especially when you feel restless. You can easily calm yourself by taking deep breaths and visualizing positive events in your life. For more anti-stress activities you can do any time and anywhere, you can refer to this article.

    Finally, don’t forget to laugh. As the saying goes, “laughter is the best medicine.” If you’re feeling stressed-out, go out with your friends and have a good laugh or watch a comedy film. You may not know this, but these simple pleasures will make a big difference in easing your discomforts and regulating your mood during pregnancy. 

Dexbaby Pregnancy Pillow
Amazon Price: $13.00 $10.99 Buy Now
(price as of Dec 23, 2015)