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Will the stress I feel during pregnancy harm my baby?

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Will the stress I feel during pregnancy harm my baby? Read on and see how our experts have answered this question, and others like it.


Your question is a good one and frequently asked because stress seems to be an unavoidable component of our lives today. Stress can be physical (experienced as lack of energy, muscle tension, headaches, loss of appetite, diarrhea, ulcers, backaches, insomnia) or emotional (experienced as anxiety, nervousness, fear, sadness, or anger). Believe it or not, stress is not always bad; studies have shown that moderate amounts of stress at times can actually be beneficial or protective, because it stimulates us to take action. But, if stress is severe and constant, it can affect us and may have an affect on the baby as well. The research about the effects of maternal stress on the baby have been conflicting, but it is possible that constant severe stress could contribute to OB complications, longer labors, low birth weight, or health problems for the baby after birth.

If your life is stressful, it's important that you use some strategies to deal with the stress in a positive way:

      •  Eat well. All the healthy foods help you feel better.


      •  Exercise regularly.


      •  Get enough sleep —-seven to eight hours if possible.


      •  Talk to a family member or friend about the issues contributing to your stress.


      •  Evaluate the things causing you to feel stressed and identify what can be changed and how to go about doing that.


    •  Take 15 minutes out of each day for yourself and use a relaxation technique, such as deep breathing and/or visual imagery.

If these strategies don't help and you feel your stress is continuing to increase, talk to your health care provider or other professional to get help.


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