Mother and Baby

What Pregnancy Stress Means For Your Baby

What Pregnancy Stress Means For Your Baby

We all worry about how what we are doing will affect our unborn baby. But if it's stress you're worried about, you're probably not doing as badly as you think

There's no underestimating the amount of stress we go through when we're pregnant. It all starts when you're TTC (why does it have to take so <long>?). But then when you do get pregnant, it only escalates.

From that point on, you worry endlessly about every single What If... you can think of. And it would be unusual if you didn't, because for every worry you have right now, there is a pregnant woman somewhere in the world going through the exact same thing.

Worrying about your baby now is just a sign that you're going to be a great mum when she is finally born (and that's when the stress <really> begins). But can all this anxiety affect your baby? And what if you have a serious problem during your pregnancy and your stress is more severe than usual?

Does your stress pass to your baby?

After looking into levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the amniotic fluid as well as in the mother's own blood, researchers have found that a baby may be exposed to maternal stress as early as 17 weeks in development. But the thing is, we don't really know exactly how stress can affect an unborn child's brain development. 

How stress affects your pregnancy

On a more practical level, we know that stress can give you sleep problems or affect your appetite, and high stress levels can also affect your blood pressure. This can be a concern in pregnancy as it can increase your chances of having a premature or low birth weight baby.

Rather than worrying even more, it's best to focus on staying reasonably fit, eating well and keeping your anxiety down as much as possible. Along with looking after your general health, that means taking up all offers of support from friends and family, and putting yourself first for a change.

If a problem does arise that send your stress levels soaring, make sure you get help straight away, and take advantage of all that your GP, midwife, hospital and local spa can offer.

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