Is Pregnancy a stress ?
Pregnancy is a special time for a woman and her family . It is a time of many changes –in a pregnant woman ‘s body , in her emotions, and in the life of her family . These changes ( as welcome as they may be) often add new stresses to the lives of busy pregnant women , who already faces many demands at home and at work.
Stress, does not have to be all bad. When managed properly, stress can provide us with the drive to meet new challenges. A pregnant woman ( or anyone else) Who feels she is coping well with stress – feeling energized, rather than drained, Functioning well at home and work- probably does not face health risks form Stress. However, when stress builds up to uncomfortable levels, it can be harmful for the pregnant woman and the fetus.
However, there are many short- term and long – term harmful effects of excessive stress. In the short – term effects, a high level of stress can cause fatigue ,sleeplessness, anxiety, poor appetite or overeating, headaches and backaches. When high levels of stress continue for long periods, it can contribute to potentially serious health problems, such as lowered resistance to infectious diseases, high blood pressure and heart disease. Studies also suggest that high levels of stress may pose special risks during pregnancy. Emotionally demanding situations which are unique pregnancy , may activate stress responses.
Pregnancy – related discomforts ( such as nausea, fatigue , frequent urination, swelling and backache) can be stressful, especially if a pregnant woman attempts to accomplish everything she did prior to pregnancy. A pregnant woman can help reduce her stress by recognizing that these symptoms are temporary and that there are ways to cope with them. She also can consider cutting back on unnecessary activities when she is uncomfortable.
Mood swings are common and normal; so a pregnant woman need not be over – concerned about them. However, she should keep in mind that they may sometimes make it more difficult for her to cope with stress . Hormonal changes may be partly responsible for the mood swings.
In addition, many pregnant woman and partners worry about the health of their baby, their ability to cope with labour and delivery, and their abilities to become good parents . Added financial responsibilities are another common source of stress , especially if the parents anticipate a brief or long – term reduction in income after the baby is born .All of these worries can be magnified if there is a high-risk pregnancy , where the pregnant woman must leave her job early and possibly significantly reduce her activity or stay in bed for an extended period of time.
It appears likely that stress increases the levels of a group of hormones, which can constrict blood flow to placenta, so the fetus may not receive the nutrients and oxygen it need for optimal growth . There same hormones also play a role in triggering labour and , therefore, increased levels of these hormones may increase the risk of preterm labour.
Stress also may exert its adverse effects indirectly by affecting the pregnant woman‘s behavior. For example , woman who are experiencing high levels of stress may not follow good health habits. They may not eat properly , or they may react to stress by reaching for cigarettes, alcohol or illicit drugs, all of which have been linked to low birth weight. Use of alcohol and certain illicit drugs also increase the risk of birth defects.