I have been under a ton of stress lately. I won’t go into the details but they are not pretty and have been causing me many tears and upset. In true scholar fashion, I decided to actually do some research and see what stress can do to me and my baby during pregnancy. This may sound morbid or unnecessary but I think maybe (hopefully) this information may be a wake-up call for one person who is causing me so much anxiety.
So, for those that are pregnant as well, here are some effects of stress on pregnancy I have found (I will link you to the source of the paper at the end):
- Structural Malformations in baby (specifically craniofacial and heart defects)
- Preeclampsia (if you are under stress during the beginning of pregnancy, you have a higher likelihood of developing preeclampsia later in pregnancy)
- Preterm delivery (Pre-term babies are susceptible to a range of complications later, including chronic lung disease, developmental delays, learning disorders and infant mortality.)
- Reduced birth weight of baby
- Smaller head size in baby (measure of brain development)
- Babies have a higher incidence of chronic health problems as adults
It is known that the baby reacts to the mother’s stress. Ultrasound images of babies of highly anxious mothers are more active than those that aren’t. In addition, the babies born of prenatally stressed mothers are harder to soothe and cry more. It is unclear at this point, but it may be possible that those same babies may have delayed motor development and increased risk of emotional and learning problems.
Interestingly enough, the effect of prenatal stress has the same magnitude of effect as smoking on the baby’s birth weight. We all know that smoking is bad for babies but stress and anxiety seem to be considered a “normal” part of life. Sadly, for the baby growing inside the mother, these are not “normal” events. As a mother, it is my job to protect my baby but I feel at a loss of how to go about that many times. How do I escape from the stress and problems especially when I am alone in my wish to make things better? On a completely other note, I experience stress from the source and then I place more stress on myself thinking about this situation is doing to my children that are already born.
It is hard. I have no idea how to fix this cycle. I just hope that maybe words in writing may mean more than my own spoken words. I need to feel some support and compassion. I need to feel important. This is a huge time in the life of the baby. If things don’t change, this baby could be harmed forever. I can only hope that those words sink in… before it is too late.
Sources: Prenatal maternal stress: effects on pregnancyand the (unborn) child