Pregnancy is a very special and delicate time in your life. From the first minute you discovered you were carrying a baby, till the birth of your baby, a beautiful journey. You are creating a new life inside of you (how fabulous is that?!?!). And you want to do what’s best for you and your baby. Eating more consciously, cutting out alcohol, nicotine and medications that aren’t compatible with your pregnancy. Good job!
Although pregnancy is a beautiful period, I have noticed that many women go through their pregnancies in a stressful way. What choices to make for themselves and the baby, what to eat, what not to eat, where to give birth, what to buy or not to buy, etc. etc. The effect of stress on your baby is a factor often not discussed or spoken about since we live stressful lives; demanding jobs, busy social lives, financial worries ….it has become normal to stress.
What effect does stress have on your body during pregnancy
When stress occurs, adrenalin builds up and tensions are not released, muscles stay tight and a number of other changes occur in the body. When this stress is housing already to long inside your body, it produces a hormone called cortisol. Just as the name implies cortisol is a steroid. One of the things a high level of cortisol does in the body is lower the production of Human Growth Hormone (hGH). A hormone needed in abundance when you are carrying a baby.
How does stress affect my baby’s growth
When you are stressed during pregnancy, your body doesn’t know or understand that you are stressed. What your body thinks is that you are in danger, physical danger, and the fight or flight mechanism kicks in. Sending all blood to your arms and legs in case you need to escape. If a baby is going to be born into a physically dangerous environment, nature prepares your baby for that. It has created the perfect mechanism to ensure your baby is physically strong.
As it grows, blood flow is directed towards its muscles but away from its brain, digestive system and other internal organs. Chronic stress will also affect your immune system.
This means that the more relaxed, calm and happy you can be through your pregnancy, the better it is for you and your baby.
An amazing study showed that just 5 minutes of feeling angry lowered the immune response for up to 6 hours! In contrast, 5 minutes of feeling calm, relaxed and happy increased immunity for over 6 hours. Your stress levels really do affect your health and the health of your growing baby.Your body then prepares as if your baby is going to be born into a peaceful, harmonious and safe environment. As it grows in the womb, preference is given to brain development, building a strong digestive system and immune system. At the same time there is better blood flow to your reproductive and digestive systems and your brain. If your life is stressful while you are pregnant, that’s a really good reason to learn to relax. The bonus is that you are teaching your baby to relax as well.
Last but certainly not least
A hormone called Relaxin is released during the latter part of pregnancy and assists in softening the lower segment of your uterus and expansion of your pelvic region. It also causes your baby’s ligaments to become more flexible and supple for the descent. It weakens the amniotic membrane and allows it to release, it also loosens your skeletal ligaments, allowing the front pubic bone (pubis symphasis) to shift forward to facilitate easier descent through the birth path to crowning. Next to all these benefits, this hormone Relaxin allows for the natural lubrication, smoothing, and expansion of the vaginal wall to facilitate easier descent of the baby.