We all experience stress during our lives. It could be directly related to your pregnancy, such as general fear of the birthing process, or other life-related issues, like work or relationships. Certainly right now, in the midst of a global health pandemic, many expecting mothers have lots of additional stress piling up.
But how does that impact the nine months of development during pregnancy? The experts at Avant Gynecology are discussing how stressful times can impact your baby or pregnancy.
Stress and Pregnancy: How Stressful Times Can Impact Your Pregnancy
Just like a lot of stress can physically impact us through headaches or issues sleeping, it can also impact your pregnancy. Here are the biggest ways this happens:
- Unfortunately, a study has proven that women who experience extreme stress, such as through a traumatic event, are more likely to have a miscarriage.
- In the same vein, preterm birth is more likely for women who experience large amounts of stress during their pregnancy.
- For women who already have high blood pressure, experiencing large amounts of stress during pregnancy only makes things worse. While stress won’t cause issues like preeclampsia or long-term hypertension, it can cause spikes in those problems.
- Sometimes, stress can impact your baby later down the road, such as increasing the risk of mental issues like ADHD and even depression.
COVID-19 Specific Impacts
Right now, we’re all going through an extremely stressful time with the coronavirus epidemic. Many people have health-related questions regarding their pregnancy and their newborn baby, and rightfully so. While scientists and the world are still learning about how this virus impacts everyone, here are some things that we know to be true about how the coronavirus affects motherhood:
- Most pregnant women are more susceptible to diseases, especially respiratory ones. It’s imperative that pregnant women follow strict quarantine requirements.
- Those who are pregnant should continue to follow hygiene best practices, such as washing your hands and not touching your face. There are no additional necessary steps pregnant women need to take to remain safe at this time.
- It is unclear if a pregnant woman will pass down COVID-19 to her baby. This is still being studied.
- Be prepared for possible changes during your birthing experience. Most hospitals are currently overloaded with treating coronavirus patients, and they don’t want to put you or your newborn in the path of the virus. This fact may change which room you’re put in, how the doctors look when assisting you through your birth, or other minor details. Speak with your provider to discuss how things might impact your birth.
- There is no proof that breast milk carries the virus, so women are allowed to continue to breastfeed their babies.
- Don’t be afraid to touch your baby during this time! Just plan to wash your hands before and after, which you were probably already doing in the first place.
We Know It’s Scary, Here’s What You Can Do
In addition to following the COVID-19 prevention recommendations above, there are things pregnant women can do to help alleviate stress and its related health effects:
- Stay in touch with your healthcare team. That may include your OBGYN, general practitioner, and even your psychologist or psychiatry. These experts will be able to make clear the things you can and can’t control during this uncertain time. If you are not currently seeing any mental health professionals but struggling with lots of stress, there are many great telemedicine options available.
- Talk with your partner or support system. Similarly, it’s important to lean on your partner and friends to get the emotional support team you need and deserve. Don’t be afraid to discuss your worries or fears with them.
- Find dedicated time each day to participate in stress-relieving activities. These activities can look different for each person. Perhaps you enjoy prenatal yoga and meditation, or maybe watching the latest episode of your favorite TV show does the trick. No matter what you do, be sure to check-in with yourself before, during, and after to see if your activity has given you the relief you need. You can even check your heart rate as a physician indicator of this.
If you have further questions about how stressful times can impact your baby or pregnancy, reach out to the experts at Avant Gynecology by clicking here or by giving us a call at 404-352-2850.