What do you think of when you think “stress?” We all have been in a great deal of stress the last few years between a global pandemic, war, and natural disasters all around us. Add to that the so-called “normal” stress that comes from work, finances, and family, and it’s quite a lot!
Now, with your pregnancy, you are experiencing a whole new level of stress! Whether you’re an experienced mom or this is your first time, your body and emotions are going through many changes.
Did you know that stress can have a negative effect on your body and growing baby? This is how it works. During times of stress, our bodies produce cortisol. During pregnancy, this has a direct impact on the placenta and the growing fetus.
Studies show that fetal exposure to elevated levels of stress hormones:
One of the biggest possible effects is on the vagus nerve. During pregnancy, your baby is developing every single cell, tissue, and organ required for life on earth. From the end of the second trimester into the beginning of the third trimester, one of the most important developments is the maturation of the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is like the so-called highway that carries messages from the brain to the rest of the body.
This nerve plays a major role in allowing the digestive system to work properly. It helps us enter the “rest and digest” side of our nervous system. If stress during pregnancy interrupts this development it can cause problems for the baby. This can show up as colic, gas, reflux, and overall fussiness. It can also cause neuromuscular development delays. This will show up as difficulty hitting milestones like rolling over, pulling up, crawling, and walking.
Whatever stress that is impacting you is impacting your baby. It’s important for both of you to try and manage that stress as well as possible. A lot of stress we deal with is out of our control so focusing on stress-relieving techniques throughout the whole pregnancy is very important. This includes:
Regardless of how many stress-relieving steps you take, you and your baby will experience stress and that’s normal. Giving birth and being born is stressful! Making sure you have a post-natal adjustment scheduled for you and your baby is important for both of you.