There’s nothing in this world more exciting, or stressful, than bringing a brand new life into the world. Considering that the mother’s hormones are bouncing off the walls, it’s not surprising that they get a little emotional. But as it turns out, the mental state of the mother can have a severely negative impact on the growing baby. And it’s something every mother should be aware of.
Nothing can compare to the relationship between a mother and her child. Men will never be able to truly comprehend the incredible bond that begins at the moment of conception. Every little kick is a reminder of the precious life that will soon be born into the world. The mother is consumed with excitement and anticipation waiting for the day they finally meet.
Even though the mother experiences morning sickness and cramps, there are definitely some positive effects of pregnancy, as well. Pregnancy makes women start all kinds of positive health trends, like quitting smoking or drinking. There are also studies that show that pregnancy can prevent breast and ovarian cancers. It’s also beneficial that sex improves for a lot of women during this time.
Pregnancy isn’t all about sunshine and daisies, though. There are some pregnancies that aren’t planned, which can lead to the mother resenting the child. And having to make serious decisions could certainly stress anyone out. Sometimes, even when the pregnancy is planned, the mother could resent the child for taking away the life she once lived. And once the baby actually arrives, her life will surely never be the same. And there’s the occasional guilt of not being as happy as they “should be” about the new baby.
A woman’s body goes through plenty of changes while they’re pregnant, and some of them are biochemical. Approximately 10 percent of mothers are diagnosed with depression while pregnant every year. Hormones, like cortisol, are released in the brain when someone is depressed. If they go without treatment, the hormones could leak into the placenta and affect the baby’s development, including the cognitive and physical development, but we’ll talk about that in a minute. But what does depression look like?
It’s extremely important to know the signs of depression, especially if you’re pregnant, and know that it’s nothing to feel ashamed about. Not only do you need to worry about your health, but you need to worry about the health of your unborn baby, as well. Make sure you tell your doctor if you experience the following symptoms: loss of appetite, loss of interest in things you used to enjoy, difficulty sleeping, inability to concentrate, or lethargy. Keep in mind that your depression definitely affects your baby, and this is how.
Not one person wants to go through depression, but for a pregnant woman, the consequences can dramatically affect the baby’s growing brain. A pregnant mother with depression can cause the child to start off with a higher risk of depression, anxiety, or behavioral problems like ADHD. A pregnant woman who is depressed can actually double the chances of the baby having emotional problems.
It’s natural for people to experience stress, and everyone’s reaction to stress is different. But a pregnant woman that is stressed could actually cause harm to the baby, too. How so? When a mom is anxious, there are less enzymes produced that break down the stress hormone cortisol, and prolonged exposure to cortisol could affect the baby’s brain development. So, a mother that is overly stressed could cause the baby to be born with chronic stress, which is no way to begin life.
Stress and anxiety go together, so it should come as no surprise that any additional stress the mother is experiencing could cause severe changes in their growing child. Did you know that this could actually change a baby’s DNA? Studies are still being conducted, but they’re finding that if a mother is depressed or anxious while carrying a child, it actually changes the control of their genes, or how much is switched off and on. More anxiety will cause someone to be more alert to detect danger, which would lead them to be distracted more, like having ADHD, when they’re older.
You’re pregnant and you’re finding yourself to be more stressed and anxious about every little thing that happens. You may not realize it, but the little one you’re carrying feels all of that anxiety and stress, as well. And how could they not? It not only effects their vital brain development, but their emotional development, as well. We learn as we live, so stressful and anxious behavior in the womb can stick with them forever.
When your brain is stressed out, your body is stressed out, too. And that stress can take a huge chunk out of your immune system. Flu, colds, and intestinal problems can be caused by the wearing down of your immunity, which causes you to be more vulnerable to illness. When your immune system is vulnerable you’re more susceptible to sickness, and that means your baby is, too. If you’re sick, then they’re sick, and that’s not all.
Alcohol, cigarettes, and illegal drugs should be avoided at all costs while pregnant. But does that mean prescription drugs, too? You should always ask your doctor, but when a pregnant woman takes drugs, they travel to the baby the same way that oxygen and nutrients do. What that means is that they can hinder the placenta’s functions, which could cause the baby to be underweight or underdeveloped. Birth defects and abnormal development could be a result, as well.
This doesn’t stop when the baby’s born, either. Let’s say you get a new job, but the hours are long, and it will consume all of your time, leaving you without the much needed sleep you require. You begin to feel a bit hopeless, like you’ll never get a break. That’s exactly what it feels like for a lot of new moms out there. More than 10 percent of new moms go through postpartum depression. This could negatively affect the brand new baby. She may not feel up to the stress that comes with motherhood, so it’s important to reach out for help immediately.
We all know that the baby’s fetal development is what sets them up for their entire life. During the second half of fetal growth, the baby’s brain increases in size 16-fold. But that doesn’t exactly mean that everything that happened is irreversible. As soon as the baby’s born, the care and treatment they receive, as well as their nourishment, can greatly boost their development. This happens because the brain is open for change throughout its entire life.
The first step is to not stress out about being stressed out, as silly as that sounds. Try to remain as calm as possible during your pregnancy. Eat healthy, rest as often as possible, see your healthcare practitioner regularly, and talk about any of the emotional or physical challenges you’re experiencing. Always be aware that any anxiety or stress you feel, can be felt in the womb. No mother wants her baby to start out their life feeling anxious and stressed out.
Pregnancy is never a walk through the park, after all, you’re growing a life in there! It’s an intense, physical and emotional rollercoaster, that is sure to take you on a wild ride. But try not to let the good be outweighed by the bad, and think about the beautiful reward at the end. And always ask for help if you need it. It’s absolutely vital that pregnant women are supported and reassured by their friends and family. It will allow the pregnancy to be happy and healthy for the baby and the mom. And remember, there is no bond greater.