Stress is a normal reaction the body has when changes occur, resulting in physical, intellectual, and emotional responses. When you become stressed, the body releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream. During pregnancy, the body naturally releases more of these hormones to assist in the development of the baby. However, chronic stress can negatively affect pregnancy. Stress during pregnancy may lead to an increased risk of low birth weight, miscarriage, premature birth, gestational diabetes, and impaired fetal development. During pregnancy anxiety and mood swings along with increasing nausea give stress. Mums-to-be can experience stress throughout their pregnancy like stress about the baby, stress about the body, stress about preparing for the baby’s arrival, and stress about labor.
Symptoms of stress during pregnancy
Some of the most common symptoms of stress during pregnancy are:
- Hormonal changes, including an increase in cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine levels cause mood swings. Mood swings can make it harder to handle stress.
- An increase in heart rate
- A feeling of worry, frustration, or sadness
- Worried about the labor time or how to take care of the baby.
- Feeling scared to be alone
How does stress affect pregnancy?
During pregnancy, more hormones are released and stress-related hormones may play a role in causing certain pregnancy complications. Studies have shown that stress and difficulty dealing with stress can be associated with babies being born smaller and earlier than normal. Chronic stress may be a risk in the development of the baby’s brain and may lead to behavioural problems later in life. A review of studies published in the year 2017, links prenatal stress to an increased risk of miscarriage. According to research, women who had major negative life events or psychological stress exposure were twice as likely to have early miscarriages. Serious or long-lasting stress may affect the immune system, which can increase the chances of getting an infection of the uterus. This type of infection can be responsible for premature birth. Therefore, it is very important for pregnant women to consider this and to learn to control their stress.
Steps to manage:
A healthy pregnancy means being mentally healthy, happy, and positive. Thus, it’s crucial that pregnant women actively address their stress and find ways to reduce it.
Prenatal yoga is a yoga practice specifically designed for pregnant women to support the body during pregnancy. Prenatal yoga leaves a positive impact on the mental health of pregnant women. Regularly practising prenatal yoga can support mental well-being by relieving stress and anxiety symptoms. Yoga poses stimulate the nervous system and block cortisol, a stress-causing hormone. Deep breaths during meditation help us get extra oxygen into our bodies, which in turn helps our muscles and brains feel relaxed and helps ease stress.
Changing eating habits
A pregnant woman must have regular meals. For a woman to give birth to a healthy baby, it is always recommended to maintain a healthy diet, remain active, and drink lots of fluids. Eating habits can directly impact stress levels. Good eating habits maintain the blood sugar level during pregnancy. Besides eating, drinking is also important to cope with stress. Dehydration will make it difficult to manage stress. Not only water, drink fruit juices, herbal drinks, etc. Healthy choices will ensure the mother and baby are getting the nutrients that make them feel good and strong, physically and mentally.
Share it out
Sharing feelings or worries with someone else can take some of the weight off of the shoulders. Talk to other pregnant or new mamas—they might offer advice about how they managed to relieve stress during their pregnancies. Joining a support group helps to remove loneliness and connect with others who completely understand. Support groups help to calm your mind and open up about the stress you feel.
Exercise is one of the best stress-busters as it boosts feel-good endorphins and lowers stress levels. Exercise releases endorphins, which can improve the mood and even relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. Brisk walking or jogging is a great way to get your heart rate up. The fresh air and movement can help freshen the mind and boost endorphins. Exercise reduces stress and goes a long way in helping to curb the demands of labor and motherhood.
A relaxed night’s sleep is achieved when physical and emotional stress levels are kept under control. Anxiety due to stress hampers good sleep. Pregnant women must indulge in different relaxation techniques and stress-free activities such as medicine, yoga, and breathing exercises, which relieve anxiety, and stress and get quality sleep.