If you haven’t heard, chronically elevated levels of stress (from work, life, finances, relationships, illness) during pregnancy doesn't just wreck your happiness, immune system and energy levels, it puts your unborn child’s developing brain, body and long-term health at risk.
Several long-term studies have demonstrated that children born to mothers with high levels of chronic stress throughout pregnancy are at significantly higher risk for a range of health-related issues.
- Early-pregnancy stress:
If your stress levels are consistently high early in pregnancy, your child is at risk for intrauterine growth retardation (IUG) which results in a low birth-weight baby who is significantly more likely to develop heart disease and diabetes in the future.
- Late-pregnancy stress:
If your stress levels are chronically high only later in your pregnancy, your child risks developing behavioral problems such as ADHD, aggressiveness, delayed cognitive development and chronic depression.
If you're stressing out just reading this, take a deep breath, hold it and exhale slowly, it's going to be alright... you're strong enough to do this right.
Because the placenta is built in the first trimester, the hormones of pregnancy start on a rather hilly course as your body strains to produce the hormones needed. Thankfully, the ride evens out by the second trimester when you'll benefit from increased levels of calming progesterone and dopamine-activating (the feel-good neurotransmitter) estrogen.
If you'd like pregnancy to be an empowering and enlightening experience rather than a roller-coaster of aches, pains, nausea and mood swings take control by:
- Actively combat stress via healthy means
- Eat a vitamin & nutrient-rich diet
- Engage in daily physical activity - at least an after-meal walk
- Study up on pregnancy, labor, birth and breastfeeding.