How to Control Anxiety in Pregnancy
Controlling anxiety in pregnancy is of vital importance for the proper development of the future baby. Anxiety during pregnancy can be due to numerous causes, both physical and psychological, and even social and economic. An important step in easing pregnancy anxiety is recognizing its importance and the influence it has on the mother and the fetus. For a long time, the psychological and emotional needs of future mothers have been ignored, denying the direct relationship between their well-being and that of their child. Therefore, before knowing the different solutions, which will be detailed later, we will explain how the anxiety suffered in pregnancy impacts on the fetus.
Regardless of the causes that cause stress and anxiety, the consequences for the health of the future baby are the same, depending on the time and level of anxiety to which the mother has been subjected during her pregnancy.
How does stress and anxiety affect the fetus?
Numerous investigations show that anxiety during pregnancy is harmful to the fetus. This is due to the fact that when you suffer from stress, high levels of corticosteroids are secreted -mainly cortisol- and catecholamines, thus altering various functions of our organism:
- Stress alters the control of physiological processes.
- It negatively influences hormonal functioning.
- It affects the activity of the nervous system.
- It interferes with our cardiovascular system.
Substances that occur when the mother suffers from anxiety or severe stress during pregnancy directly interfere with the development of the fetus, producing structural changes of long duration and even permanent. The hypothalamus, the pituitary and the adrenal glands regulate the hormones that are secreted during stress. These hormones are transported by the mother’s bloodstream, reaching the fetus through the umbilical cord and the placenta.
It is shown that mild or moderate stress is not harmful to the fetus, it is even beneficial because it positively stimulates their brain development. However, acute stress has numerous consequences.
Physical consequences of anxiety in pregnancy
- Stress causes a contraction of the blood vessels of the placenta, thus reducing the amount of nutrients that reach the fetus, which results in low birth weight babies.
- On the other hand, severe stress also affects the blood flow of the uterus and its ability to contract, leading to premature births or miscarriages.
- Continued stress interferes with other processes of fetus development, such as the growth and maturation of organs.
- It is also proven that it negatively influences your immune system, creating a susceptibility to future diseases.
Cognitive and psychological consequences of anxiety while pregnant
- Stress directly affects the brain development of the fetus and the functioning of neurotransmitters.
- Diminishes the development of gray matter, related to the level of intelligence and the processing of information.
- The hormones that the mother secretes during stress and that cause changes in the brain of the fetus produce learning and language problems.
- There is a higher percentage of various psychological, behavioral or psychiatric disorders, such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity and even schizophrenia, in cases of severe stress
Read Also: How to Overcome Anxiety in 3 Steps
How to control anxiety and stress during pregnancy?
For all the above, the psychological health of future mothers is of vital importance. The uterus is the first environment in which the future neonate is located, being directly dependent on him and his environment.
Depending on the causes, we will need to use one approach or another. It will always be important to inquire into the underlying reasons for that stress. It may be a simple problem or a larger problem that does not depend solely on the mother, but on the surrounding circumstances, such as a complicated family or socio-economic situation.
Feeling a bit of anxiety in pregnancy is normal, because physical and hormonal changes influence well-being, creating discomfort, tiredness, nausea, pain or other discomfort. Hormones can produce emotional ups and downs, discouragement … and the concern for the future baby and his health and delivery are also completely normal.
Read Article: How to Overcome The Fear of Childbirth
Even so, we can start from a series of useful tools that will help us to calm anxiety in pregnancy:
- Education about pregnancy and not only about childbirth is an essential starting point. Know how pregnancy will develop and how it affects all this to the mother and the fetus. This would help mothers, their partners and their environment, both family and work, to lose the fears caused by prejudice and ignorance.
- Provide psychological and not only physical care to pregnant women. Investigate the underlying causes of your discomfort: family, work, economic … Try to help them talk openly about their problems and fears about pregnancy and create bonds of trust.
- Practice relaxation, meditation and yoga exercises for pregnant women, which will not only help in childbirth, but also during pregnancy. Visualization and guided meditation are good techniques to focus and learn to control anxiety in pregnancy.
- Being in touch with nature, enjoying social relationships and sunbathing in moderation stimulates vitality, optimism and good humor.
- Maintain a healthy diet and rest as necessary. Sleeping little or badly generates stress, as well as not spending enough time to eat well.
- Take a break from obligations and devote more time to recreational activities or hobbies.
- Decide previously the conditions of childbirth. Childbirth is a major source of stress for many women. Relying on the medical staff and having the necessary amenities offers great peace of mind.