Stress is never a nice thing to experience in your daily life, but it’s especially difficult to manage when you’re expecting a little one.
Now, researchers are urging mums to reduce their stress levels during pregnancy – because they have solid proof that it’s affecting their babies, in the womb.
The research was carried out by a team from University of Zurich, who investigated the impact of short- and long-term stress on the foetus.
They discovered that, while short-term stress has no apparent impact on the foetus, longer periods of stress can cause the stress hormone cortisol to enter the amniotic fluid. And previous studies have suggested that stress can lead to health problems for the unborn child, further down the road.
According to the report, published in Science Daily, the team studied a group of 34 healthy pregnant women. Each woman took part in an amniocentesis, which is a medical procedure whereby a small amount of amniotic fluid is sampled.
The amniocentesis is considered a ‘stress situation’ that triggers the release of the stress hormone cortisol. When this hormone is released by the expectant mother’s body, a little of it can enter the amniotic fluid and foetal metabolism via the placenta.
In order to analyse their results, the researchers compared the cortisol levels of the mother’s saliva to that of the baby’s amniotic fluid. They determined that, in cases of short-term stress, it doesn’t impact the baby in a negative way.
However, in cases of prolonged periods of stress (supplemented with lifestyle-based questionnaires), they discovered that the concentration of stress hormones in the amniotic fluid rose.
The researchers have, in turn, called on all expectant mums to try their level best to reduce the rate of stress in their lives, particularly during this special time of pregnancy.
So, what is their advice? Well, they reckon all women experiencing long-term stress should ‘seek support from a therapist to handle the stress better’.
And co-researcher Pearl La Marca-Ghaemmaghami encourages mums-to-be, adding: “A secure bond between the mother and child after the birth can neutralise negative effects of stress during pregnancy.”
Well, what do you reckon, mums? Have you encountered high stress during your pregnancies? Do you have any advice on cutting those levels down? Be sure to let us know!