Stress during pregnancy makes your baby’s brain smaller

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Bringing a new person into the world is no easy task. You worry about everything. Are the foods you eat healthy enough? Is it safe to exercise? How will you juggle work and parenthood once baby arrives?

Some stress during pregnancy is normal, just as it is during other times of life. But if stress becomes constant, the effects on you and your baby could be lasting.

When you’re stressed, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode, sending out a burst of cortisol and other stress hormones. These are the same hormones that surge when you are in danger. They prepare you to run by sending a blast of fuel to your muscles and making your heart pump faster.

If you can deal with your stress and move on, your stress response will recede and your body will go back into balance. But “the kind of stress that’s really damaging is the kind that doesn’t let up,” says Susan Andrews, PhD, a clinical neuropsychologist and author of the book Stress Solutions for Pregnant Moms: How Breaking Free From Stress Can Boost Your Baby’s Potential. In fact, constant stress could alter your body’s stress management system, causing it to overreact and trigger an inflammatory response.

Inflammation, in turn, has been linked to poorer pregnancy health and developmental problems in babies down the road. “There are some data to show that higher chronic stressors in women and poor coping skills to deal with those stressors may be associated with lower birth weight and with delivering earlier,” says Ann Borders, MD, MPH, MSc. She is an OB/GYN in the obstetrics and gynecology department, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, at Evanston Hospital, NorthShore University HealthSystem.

READ MORE via Can Your Stress Affect Your Fetus?.

 

 

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