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How Stress Affects Your Pregnancy


Stress causes your body to release hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. This is a natural response to prepare the body for fight or flight. The hormones then dissipate and your body returns to its balanced state. However if your body is experiencing long-term or chronic stress, the hormone levels remain elevated causing a negative effect on your body’s health and possibly the development of the growing fetus.


We all dream of floating calmly through pregnancy, but many women feel more vulnerable or anxious. Here are a few ways to reduce negative stress during pregnancy:


1. Discover stress triggers. Is there something in your life that causes anxiety? Spend some time coming up with a strategy to lower the stress around that trigger. There may be triggers that you can’t change, however, you may be able to adjust your response to the stressful situation to reduce anxiety.


2. Proper nutrition. Many foods have been linked to mood changes, the ability to handle stress and mental clarity. Diets high in caffeine, sugar, processed carbohydrates, artificial additives, and low protein can all lead to issues regarding your mental and physical health. Make a conscious decision to fuel your body with the foods that can help you feel better.


3. Exercise. Exercise naturally increases seritonin levels and reduces cortisol levels. Your pregnant body will be going through lots of changes, continuing a moderate exercise routine can help to relieve stress related to those changes as well as the expected discomforts during pregnancy. Check with your doctor at Summit OB/GYN to ensure your exercise routine is safe to continue throughout your pregnancy.


4. Prioritize your rest. Lack of sleep greatly affects the body and mind’s ability to handle stress and day to day challenges. Work on establishing a routine sleep schedule that has you going to sleep and getting up at the same time. Getting good sleep during pregnancy can be tricky. Make it a priority to find the best sleeping position. Also throughout your pregnancy, allow for time to stop and rest on the days when your body is feeling extra tired. Your body may be using all of your energy to help baby grow.

Pregnant woman wearing light colors laying down in bed sleeping


5. Talk to someone. Sharing our feelings and concerns can be very effective in lifting stress off of us. For example, when you think about giving birth, you worry about what might happen, and all of a sudden, you’re stressed. Talking to someone else about what’s bothering you is a great way to get these worries off your chest and relieve stress in the process. Choose someone with whom you feel comfortable talking about these sensitive issues—a partner, a friend, even a therapist.


Both Dr. Biggs and Dr. Cohn understand the stresses that come with pregnancy, especially with everything going on throughout the world. Contact Summit OB/GYN or discuss with them at your next prenatal appointment for additional strategies to reduce stress.