Stress and Pregnancy – Can stress cause birth defects during pregnancy?
It is not a secret that pregnancy comes with many changes. Your body and your emotions change. The emotions of your family change as well. There is, of course, the joy of pregnancy and hoping to welcome a new member into the family after nine months.
However, the changes can take a toll on any woman. It is common for pregnant women to feel stressed. Unfortunately, too much stress has negative consequences on the body.
Why stress during pregnancy is harmful
It weakens your immune system
Stressed people are often sickly because stress can affect the immune system. The immune system is responsible for protecting you from infection and a weak system means that you have a higher chance of getting an infection in your uterus. You may end up giving birth prematurely.
Lack of enough sleep
Sleep is important especially for a pregnant woman. It is time for your body to relax and your cells to be repaired. Lack of enough sleep can cause more stress and lead to psychological and physical problems.
Thinking too much about something gives you headaches which you will have to treat with painkillers. These medications may not be good for your unborn child.
Loss your appetite
During pregnancy, you need to eat healthy in order to provide essential nutrients for your body and the development of your child. When you are stressed, you lose your appetite which means you eat less and lack enough nutrients. This could adversely affect your baby.
It could result in negative actions
Pregnant women can result in negative behaviors to cope with stress. E.g. drinking alcohol, smoking, abusing drugs etc. all these activities are risky and could lead to the birth of a deformed baby.
Future effects on your baby
Stress can cause problems for your child later in the future during their childhood like lack of attention, fear etc. their brain development and immune system could be affected as well.
All these consequences are not good for you.
Over the long run, elevated levels of stress during pregnancy could result in serious health concerns like high blood pressure or heart diseases. Such conditions could lead you to have a premature baby or even a baby who weighs less. Both situations place the health of the baby in jeopardy.
Causes of stress during pregnancy
- Pregnancy discomforts like nausea, constipation or backache
- Hormonal changes that cause mood swings
- Anxiety over what to expect during labor and birth
- Job responsibilities if you are working
- Life continuous to go on whether you are pregnant or not
- Negative life events like divorce or illness
- Catastrophic events like earthquakes
- Long-lasting stress
How to reduce stress during pregnancy
- Talk to your partner or healthcare provider when you feel stressed
- Ask for help on how to handle the discomforts
- Stay healthy and fit
- Cut back in unnecessary activities
- Have a good support network
- Try relaxation activities
- Take childbirth education classes
- Plan ahead
Do everything possible to avoid being stressed out during pregnancy. It will do you a lot of good.
Have you announced your pregnancy yet?
If not, here are a few creative ideas for pregnancy announcement: