How to Stress Less for a Joyful Pregnancy

There is no end of advice to quit smoking and drinking alcohol when pregnant, but there is nothing said about the effects of stress on your growing baby. We already know the implications of ongoing stress on our own health. But stress has specific physical and emotional health risks to you and your baby, and to your family unit while pregnant.

For many women, pregnancy is a particularly stressful time especially if it catches you by surprise. The prospect of a new child turns a woman’s world upside down. Your relationship changes, and then there is the matter of work and finances, and other lifestyle adjustments that can stress you out.

When pregnant you may constantly worry or your stress may relate to specific events such as moving house.

Baby sleeping

Symptoms of ongoing stress

Be aware of your stress levels while pregnant. Ongoing stress can cause health problems for you and your unborn child, and manifest in many ways including:

  • anxiety
  • constant worry
  • sleeplessness
  • headaches
  • anger
  • eating disorders
  • unable to relax
  • a racing pulse.

Are you experiencing any of these symptoms on an ongoing basis?

Effects of stress while pregnant

Stress and the effects of cortisol is linked to premature delivery, which is the major cause of disabilities and even death in children five and under. It also causes babies to be born under size which puts them at risk of health problems. Your baby can even be born with your stress patterns of behaviour.

The fetus tunes into you from the minute of conception. Everything you do, feel and experience affects the fetus as it grows. So, when your pregnancy is stressful, it can affect your child negatively throughout its life. Babies can be born with conditions like ADHD, fear and anxiety. A mother’s high stress levels can affect a baby’s immune system and brain development. But you can change that and take action to have a joyful pregnancy. You can influence your child’s developing mind and brain while in the womb. And science backs this up.

pregnant woman with head ache showing sign of stress

Scientific evidence

Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D., bestselling author of The Honeymoon Effect says the mother’s physical and emotional health profoundly affects her developing child. “The fetus, for example, absorbs excess cortisol and other stress hormones if the mother is chronically anxious. If the child is unwanted for any reason, the fetus is bathed in the chemicals of rejection. If the mother is wildly in love with her baby and her partner, the fetus is bathed in the love potions.”

As far back as 1981, Thomas Verny, M.D., D.Psych wrote in his ground-breaking book The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, “Awake or asleep, the (research) studies show, they (unborn children) are constantly tuned in to their mother’s every action, thought, and feeling. From the moment of conception, the experience in the womb shapes the brain and lays the groundwork for personality, emotional temperament, and the power of higher thought.”

Verny also says your child develops up to 50% of their personality by the time you bring them into the world. “The nine months in the womb are so fundamental to human development in every area of life.”

Cortisol – good or bad?

Your cortisol (stress) levels naturally elevate by up to four times more than normal when pregnant. And this passes to the fetus through the amniotic fluid and placenta, and plays an important role in developing the body’s organs such as the lungs. So, stress is not all bad.

A long-term study at the University of Denver looked at the effects of cortisol on a developing fetus. Dr Elysia Davis said that babies born to pregnant women with constantly higher cortisol levels were more sensitive to stress than other babies. “Our data consistently demonstrates that children exposed to higher levels of stress hormones during gestation have heightened HPA axis reactivity, fearful temperament during infancy and anxiety during childhood.”

This study follows the children as they mature. By the time they were toddlers they were more anxious and fearful than other children. And, between the ages of 6 and 9, their MRI scans showed the amygdala (the brain’s fear response centre) was larger than usual. Davis said their mothers reported fearful behaviour and MRI scans showed “differences in the way their brains have developed”.

Create a designer baby

Creating a designer baby is not about genetically altering the fetus or choosing the sex. It is about changing the environment your unborn child develops in.

Many studies show your emotional state while pregnant can affect how your baby’s brain develops. Research shows this is associated with fetal programming where your stress can alter how the brain of the fetus develops and can affect the child for the rest of its life. There is a body of evidence that shows fetal programming is important for a developing brain.

Prenatal stress has links to physical and neurodevelopmental conditions such as:

So, if stress can harm your developing child, you can change that to give your child the best start in life. By giving you child a healthy, happy environment while still in the womb, it can reduce these risks. You have the opportunity to design your baby’s environment which is why having a joyful pregnancy is so important.

Reducing stress during pregnancy

While it is important to reduce your stress at any time, it is even more important during pregnancy as your child’s health is at stake. The problem with stress is you cannot just decide to stop. It is not that easy. But there are things you can do to manage stress to make your pregnancy more enjoyable.

Try the following to reduce stress levels:

  • Know what triggers stress you out, and take notice of how you feel and what happens when you feel this way.
  • Do something you love – read a good book, watch a sunset, have a picnic on the beach with people you love, cuddle your pet.
  • Take time out to relax.
  • Accept help when someone offers it.
  • Keep you and your baby healthy with a well-balanced healthy diet.
  • Exercise regularly, go for a walk, take a pregnancy exercise class.
  • Meditate or take a yoga class to help you relax.
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
  • Share how you feel with someone you trust.

pregnant woman doing yoga

Give your unborn child a head start

So, it is vital you have a joyful pregnancy to give your unborn child a head start. My Peaceful Pregnancy Program works on releasing stress patterns, fears and insecurities to help you stay balanced and healthy throughout your pregnancy. It not only works on you; it works on your unborn child. You will be better able to manage your emotions and feelings so you and your baby are in harmony with each other, and baby feels safe and secure while developing in the womb.

This program has amazing, long lasting benefits for you and your family. My Peaceful Pregnancy Program will also help:

  • Baby’s brain to develop without stress patterns so it has a better chance of feeling more confident because baby’s brain is not consistently in a state of fear.
  • You and baby to better bond while in the womb.
  • When baby is born it will be more content and happier.
  • Baby to adjust to leaving the womb to enter the world because it has not experienced a life of stress in the womb.
  • You to recover faster from the birth and get better recovery sleep while your newborn adjusts to the world.

a relax and happy pregnant woman

All you need is a monthly session while pregnant to look after you and your unborn baby’s mental health. Book in now to take advantage of my introductory offer of $79.00 and discover how it will change how you feel. Don’t worry if you are not in Perth. We work with expectant mothers from across Australia by phone and via Skype.

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