General Practice 2022

Stress in pregnancy: what are the risks and how to alleviate it

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Stress in pregnancy: what are the risks and how to alleviate it
Stress in pregnancy: what are the risks and how to alleviate it

Stress in pregnancy is a relatively common situation and can occur due to changes in a woman's body, normal hormonal changes during pregnancy, worry about childbirth and preparations for the arrival of the baby.

However, when stress in pregnancy is frequent or excessive, it can increase the release of inflammatory cytokines and cortisol, which is the stress-related hormone, which can reach the baby through the placenta, and interfere with the its development, in addition to increasing the risk of infections, premature birth or low birth weight.

Thus, to avoid risks to the baby, it is important that women try to relax during pregnancy, it is important to rest, do activities they like and have a he althy diet, always with the guidance of the obstetrician. See how to eat during pregnancy.

Possible risks of stress

Some of the possible risks of pregnancy stress for the baby are:

  • Increased risk of allergies, because excess cortisol can affect the fetal immune system, causing the baby to produce more immunoglobulin E, a substance related to allergies, such as allergic asthma, allergic rhinitis or atopic dermatitis, for example;
  • Low birth weight due to decreased amount of blood and oxygen reaching the baby;
  • Increased chances of premature birth due to increased muscle tension in the mother, which can lead to labor;
  • Increased insulin resistance and increased risk of obesity in adulthood due to exposure to inflammatory cytokines;
  • Increased risk of heart disease, as excess cortisol stimulates the production of adrenaline and noradrenaline, which control blood pressure and heart rate;
  • Brain changes,such as learning disabilities, hyperactivity and increased risk of disorders such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia due to repeated cortisol exposure.

How to relieve stress in pregnancy

To reduce stress during pregnancy and thus avoid complications for the baby and promote a feeling of well-being in the woman, it is important that some strategies are adopted, such as:

  • Talk to a trusted person and tell them the reason for your anxiety, asking for help to deal with the problem;
  • Rest to the fullestand focus on the baby, remembering that he can hear you and be her companion for life;
  • Having a he althy diet, consuming plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole foods, and avoiding sweets and fats;
  • Do regular physical activity, such as walking and water aerobics, as it helps to relieve stress and produce hormones that give a feeling of well being;
  • Doing activities you enjoy, such as watching comedy movies, taking a relaxing bath, and listening to music;
  • Drink calming teas such as chamomile tea and passion fruit juice, which can be consumed up to 3 times a day;
  • Do a complementary therapy, such as practicing yoga, meditation, relaxing massages, or using aromatherapy to relax.

If stress symptoms do not improve or in case of depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, you should seek medical attention so that he can prescribe specific medication when necessary. Anxiolytics and antidepressants may be indicated but should only be used under medical supervision.

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