The Effects Of Stress On Pregnancy

African American mother and daughter meditatingAlong with eating a healthy diet, getting sufficient rest and exercising, the secret to having a magical pregnancy is keeping the stress to a minimum.

READ: 5 Things Black Women Should Know About Preterm Birth

Some stress — due to raging hormones – is normal during pregnancy, just as it is during other times of life, like moving, job loss, going back to school, divorce, the death of a loved one, etc. However, when chronic stress occurs, the effects on an expecting woman can become long-term for her child.

In fact, when you’re stressed out, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode, sending out a burst of cortisol and other stress hormones. In turn, these stress hormones increase the risk that a mother will go into preterm labor. This is when regular contractions begin to open the cervix before 37 weeks of pregnancy (full term). If premature birth happens, it could cause serious health problems or even be fatal for a baby.

Here’s how:

  • Some preterm babies experience difficulty breathing.
  • Prematurity also puts a newborn at a greater risk for brain hemorrhage.
  • Also affected are the nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs.
  • Preterm babies are more prone to infection and jaundice.
  • Children born premature may also have difficulty feeding as well as trouble maintaining their body temperature.

Meanwhile, survivors sometimes suffer long-term health issues, including:

  • Chronic lung disease
  • Vision and hearing impairment
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Developmental problems