Stress in pregnancy, how does it affect the baby?

Stress in pregnancy

In the face of pregnancy, what we eat, how much we sleep, what physical exercise we do, has great relevance … But what role do emotions play? There is a close relationship between the emotional state of the mother during pregnancy and the uterine life. Thus, stress in pregnancy can hinder the evolutionary development of the baby.

When we are stressed, the levels of 6 types of hormones can be altered: cortisol, glucagon, prolactin, testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. These oscillations affect the pregnant woman, but also the fetus. Therefore, when mothers experience severe psychological stress during pregnancy, pregnancy increases their risk.

The main manifestations of stress in pregnancy occur at the physical, physiological and social level.

Stress in pregnancy

Difficulties for the newborn

The main manifestations of stress can be seen reflected in different planes: physiological, physical and even social. Sleep is disturbed, appetite (overeating or lack of appetite) and frequent headaches, muscle tension, irascibility … In addition, the immune system weakens, which increases the chances of infection.

Prematurity and low birth weight

This, in turn, can precipitate labor, which increases the chances of having a premature baby (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or with low birth weight (less than 2.5 kilos). The latter, along with preterm infants, are at risk of suffering many problems in childhood. For example, frequent illnesses, problems of growth, distraction, hyperactivity and deficits in motor coordination.

Respiratory diseases and physical defects

Stress in pregnancy can cause asthma in the baby and other types of dermatological conditions, according to multiple investigations. Among them, atopic eczema throughout the first 8 months of life of the newborn is very common.

On the other hand, among the physical alterations that can affect the baby, is pyloric stenosis. It is a narrowing of the pylori, located in the lower part of the stomach, which connects with the small intestine. This disease requires immediate surgery.

Stress in pregnancy

Circulatory activity

We have mentioned before the types of hormones that most influence our body in an, especially stressful situation. After entering the bloodstream, they reach the placenta, which is the baby’s vital connection with the mother for months. In turn, this hormonal set excessively increases the child’s heart rate.

So, the fewer anxious and stressful events the woman faces during this period, the better: in this way, we will “bomb” the child less with hormonal torrents.

Learning and intellect

In addition, specifically one of the hormones, cortisol, which acts in adults to restore homeostasis, can cause serious difficulties in the future development of the baby. It has been shown that the higher the level of amniotic fluid in the fluid, the lower the IQ in the future.

Although it is not a disease, having an IQ below the average can affect the daily life of the child. In addition to learning difficulties, the risk of suffering attention deficit or hyperactivity increases. Associated with this, it may cost you more to solve problems in a planned and strategic way or to inhibit spontaneous tendencies.

Stress in pregnancy

With caution, but without being alarmed

Sudden alterations in mood or prolonged anxiety are not trivial. Our body warns us when we have days of high accumulated tension. Without resting well, with excessive worries or work overload, academic or domestic. Imagine now if we add to all these stressful events having a human being growing inside of us. It is impossible that these mood changes do not affect you!

However, it is important to point out that unexpected events that occur unexpectedly at some point are not dangerous. For example, if a pregnant woman is frightened by the barking of a dog that is not expected, there is no danger to the fetus.

It is stress -generated in situations that are important for us because they involve some type of threat, loss or damage- prolonged can generate all this type of alterations to the baby. Also, keep in mind that emotional reactions are not the same in all women. Therefore, stress does not affect them in the same way.

Take care of rest, self-demanding, face situations calmly, eat healthy or exercise under medical supervision. All of them are great allies to avoid stress in pregnancy.

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