Effects of Stress During Pregnancy

Studies have proven that if a mother experiences excessive stress or suffers from an emotional trauma, her baby may be born with certain deficiencies that may persist into adulthood and cause more complications.

Recent medical research even points to the fact that the effect of life in the womb on the emotional and physical health of the baby may be greater than that of the genes inherited. The conditions in the uterus may significantly determine how a baby’s liver, heart, kidneys, brain and mind will function during adulthood.

For example, when we are under stress, our body produces a stress hormone called Cortisol. Cortisol doesn’t create a problem if you experience occasional stress. However, if you remain under stress for a long time, you will produce excessive Cortisol, which can reach the baby in the womb and raise his set point for blood pressure forever. When he reaches adulthood, he is likely to suffer from high blood pressure.

When a mother faces extremely stressful circumstances during her pregnancy such as a marriage break-up, physical or emotional abuse, open infidelity or simply the disinterest and
un-involvement of the partner, they pass the effects on to their baby in the womb.

As a result, these babies are exposed to a variety of stress hormones, toxins and malnutrition inside the womb. Is it any wonder that these babies become hyperactive, under active, inattentive, or temperamental and exhibit poor self-control in later life?

Many young mothers do not realize the gravity of their condition. When referred for therapy, many feel embarrassed and hardly ever show up for psychological consultation. Their partners or families may not encourage them to seek help because the problem is not seen as a medical one.

So a woman in such a situation suffers alone. Even when they are seemingly coping with the excessive stress, they might still be constantly producing stress hormones and toxins and some will reach the baby in the womb. Maternal stress during pregnancy is also found to be a cause of asymmetry in coordination of ears, fingers, feet, elbows, etc.

As a result, the I.Q of such children is found to be lower. Maternal stress is also linked with imperfections in the developing nervous system, which can lead to problems of perception, thinking and memory.

All of us want happy children. Happy children grow out of happy babies. Happy babies are born to happy mothers. Therefore, partners, families and friends of expectant mothers should do their best to make an expectant mother happy and relaxed. If she is depressed, nervous or tense, encourage her to seek timely help.

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