Most people are aware that what you drink or consume during pregnancy affects your unborn baby. However, did you know that your emotions can also potentially affect impact the baby’s development?
Studies show that a positive attitude or state of mind can shape your body, improve your mood and even help nurture a healthier fetus during pregnancy. Of course, this implies that emotions such as stress and depression, which are known to affect expectant mothers, may also have some impact on the overall health of the unborn baby.
How does a mother’s feelings affect her baby?
A pregnant mother’s emotions are intrinsically linked to her unborn baby. Indeed, science has shown that everything a pregnant mom thinks or feels is directly transmitted to her unborn child through substances called neurohormones.
According to a study by researchers from the University of California-Irvine, it was found that a six-month embryo is affected by the emotional state of the mother. What’s more, the effect was not just temporary. Changes in the mother’s mental state state were found to influence the baby’s development both before and after birth.
“We believe that the human fetus is an active participant in its own development and is collecting information for life after birth,” said co-author of the study Curt A. Sandman. “It’s preparing for life based on messages the mom is providing.”
Occasional stress is normal, chronic stress can be harmful.
During pregnancy, we all experience occasional stress, and this is not expected to have a long-lasting effect on the unborn baby. However, long-term depression, anxiety or stress, which is characterized by anger, resentment, and bitterness, will impact the overall well-being of your baby. Individuals who are highly anxious during pregnancy have an increased chance of delivering equally troubled and colicky babies.
When you are suffering from stress-related symptoms, your system creates stress hormones. When these stress hormones get transferred to the unborn baby, the child may become chronically stressed, which can have widespread negative effects on many parts of the body, including the digestive, respiratory, and cardiovascular systems.
Depression can be very damaging.
Depression is a common health condition that affects nearly ten percent of pregnant mothers. Babies born to depressed mothers are one and a half times more likely to develop depression at their eighteenth birthday. What’s more, there are higher chances that they will experience emotional-related issues such as aggression and anger.
The researchers at the University of California-Irvine found that what was important to babies was typically a consistent environment, before and after birth.
Surprisingly, the babies who had fewer problems were those who either had a mother who was healthy both before and after birth and those whose moms were depressed before birth and remained depressed afterward. This shows the importance of treating a mother’s depression early on, even before birth.
Other emotions can also have an impact.
If you are pregnant, but you lack an emotional attachment with your baby, it could be harmful. Research has shown that mothers who resent being pregnant are more likely to bear children with emotional problems.
Very extreme distress in a pregnant woman has also been shown to increase risks of prematurity and low birth weight in babies.
The bottom line — take good care of yourself and baby.
Even though stress and depression are common problems that women are likely to experience during pregnancy, there are a number of things you can do to reduce their impact.
Embracing a healthy lifestyle extends to your mental health. Find helpful and creative ways to reduce stress. Seek help for depression or any other major issue that could affect you and your baby.
And always try your best to remain positive and give your baby an opportunity to develop and grow in a peaceful environment.