Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Effects of Stress on Pregnancy

Stress and Pregnancy

The article  talks about the adverse effects of acute stress on the incidence of miscarriages as noted in Gaza area of Israel. The population including pregnant women lived under the stress of intending rocket attacks. The results indicate what most of us would have guessed already i.e. stress is not good for pregnancy. Though the study above looked at an extreme stress i.e. fear of unexpected of death, I don't think we need to be stressed out to that extreme to adversely affect outcome of a pregnancy.

stress and pregnancy

More routine kind of stress
Most women have thankfully not have had to do much with such extreme fears. What we do identify is the more long standing stress is that we have within our day to day lives. Stress caused by issues in interpersonal relationships, be it with your partner with friends and family or your office or the general sense of irritation and stress that we hear about recession, job insecurity, breaking down law and order situation and even distinct stressful event such as the Boston bombing.

Why stress is no good for the baby ?

The simple thing is stress and pregnancy don't go hand in hand. Most common response to stress is that of flight or fight. Both of these are guided by your sympathetic- burst of adrenaline in the system. Racing pulse, increased blood pressure,  and decreased blood supply to gut or kidney and skin are all responsive of sympathetic stimulation in stress. Reduction of blood supply to the placenta may not happen instantly but such long standing changes can cause increased resistance in the placental vasculature - the uterine artery mainly showing diminished blood supply to the baby. .

Tackling stress

The best way to manage stress is to not have it in the first instance, but that's easier said than done. Whilst we have "labour training" programmes I think its equally relevant to have an ante-natal training programme which starts right from the beginning of pregnancy or ideally even before. An important component of that would be to handle stress sin a way that doesn't affect the mum and her baby. Not just dietary habits like consumption of tea, coffee, and cigarette, wine (which are all supposed to be stress busting agents). What we need to bust stress is developing the ability to live in the moment. That takes training. Exercise, control, relaxation through yogic breathing (Pranayama) and the ability to detach from stressful thoughts at will,  will allows the mother to manage stress.