How Does Pregnancy Stress Affect Fetus Growth

2 min read

Pregnancy Stress
Ananya Bhattacharjee
Writer. Musician. Mother. Reading, music and travelling are all time favourites. Been into ‘writing’ from the last 10 years and have become an everlasting love since I started.

Pregnancy is an integral and beautiful part of a woman’s life. It brings in many changes, both physically and emotionally to the would-be-mother who experiences huge transitions in her body and a myriad of emotions. Stress is another part and parcel of pregnancy stress thinking about the development of the baby, stress caused by worrying about changes in the body and many other factors. Stress is normal, however, too much stress will affect the baby’s health and development in the womb.

Stress Factors in Pregnancy:

  • Knowing that she is pregnant can be stressful for some women. There may be situations where the woman feels a loss of control of the body and the routine as it completely changes during pregnancy. This will eventually lead to stress
  • A previous bad experience in pregnancy, say miscarriage or stillborn baby can cause stress and fears when the woman gets pregnant again.
  • An unplanned pregnancy causes a lot of stress for a woman. As she may not be prepared mentally for the changes, there might always be a tension lurking in the mind.
  • In some cases, unwelcome advice also causes lots of stress for a woman. Advice on food habits and superstitions during pregnancy is a headache for would-be-mothers.
  • A traumatizing experience during pregnancy, like a death in the family or any accident of a loved one, may also cause stress during pregnancy.
  • Drug and alcoholism are other factors of stress during pregnancy. Often mothers who regularly drink and smoke often face stress and issues during pregnancy when they are advised not to indulge in those activities.
  • Mental illness and depression are a stress factor in pregnancy. Mentally unstable and depressed women face additional pressure and stress as they fail to handle the additional changes during pregnancy period.

Stress effects on Mothers:

Stress is a worrying factor if it goes beyond the limit and becomes an additional burden for the mother. The short term stress is fine, long term is harmful, unmanageable and has a harmful effect on the mother and the fetus. Some of the effects of stress for the mother include:

  • Stress causes headaches and anxiety in a mother. During pregnancy, when a woman goes through hormonal and physical changes, headaches become a cause of worry.  
  • Difficulty in sleep is another effect of stress. The mother may have difficulties in sleeping or the sleep cycle may completely change.
  • Rapid breathing or breathlessness is a common effect of stress. Continuous tension and worrying causes breathlessness and may lead to unconsciousness in severe cases.
  • Hormonal and bodily changes cause irritation during pregnancy. Additionally, stress would bring in anger which would further worsen the mood of the mother. the mother tends to get irritated easily over petty issues and would fail to enjoy the pregnancy period.
  • Eating disorders are a common effect of stress during pregnancy. The would-be-mother tends to binge eat unhealthy foods and avoid the prescribed diet which would lead to slow growth or complications during pregnancy.

Stress effects on Baby:

Stress during pregnancy leads to the slow growth of the unborn baby. There can be effects on the gestation period with the birth of a premature baby or might lengthen the period of pregnancy. Additionally, there can also be issues in the physical and mental growth of the fetus where later the child may face behavioral and coping issues during childhood.

Ways to Avoid Stress during Pregnancy:

Pregnancy Stress

Reducing stress and maintaining a mental balance during pregnancy is crucial to enjoying the pregnancy. Regulating a balance in physical and mental health is beneficial for the mother. a happy pregnant mother is able to handle stress more effectively than a worried and unhappy mother. as such, being happy is the foremost motive of pregnancy. Some of the ways to handle stress effectively are:

  • Getting adequate rest is necessary for the mother. The more the rest is, the less is the stress. A calmer mind full of rest will lead to a contented mood and a healthier pregnancy.
  • Eating a balanced diet is necessary during pregnancy. A diet full of essential nutrients and proper exercise will help to keep stress at bay.
  • Working on a hobby or passion is essential during activity. Activities like listening to music, reading, gardening and other relaxing activities will help a lot to avoid stress.
  • Always talk with a trusted person to discuss things that cause stress. It is helpful to talk with people and understand the causes of stress to successfully eradicate them from the mind.

A healthy and stress-free pregnancy is a boon in itself.  It is essential to identify the triggers of stress and avoid such thoughts and situations during the pregnancy term.