Relax! Your Baby Will Thank You!
Part 2 of a 2-part series.
Pregnancy and Acute Stress: Important Links continued...
And that's precisely what doctors in New York City learned in the days and
weeks following the events of Sept. 11. While they fully expected the stress of
that day to increase rates of premature birth, surprisingly, says Young, this
was not the case.
Rebarber says that some of the Sept. 11 data showed an increase in women
starting labor early, but that early delivery had not necessarily
Hobel believes that may be because the effects of a sudden episode of a
stressful event are far more likely to cause problems when experienced early
rather than late in the pregnancy.
That is precisely what researchers at the University of California at Irvine
documented following the 1994 northern California earthquake. In this instance,
women who were in their first three months of pregnancy when the quake hit were
far more likely to deliver prematurely than women who were in their third
trimester when the disaster occurred.
"The definition of major stressors includes things like loss of another
child or a parent -- something personally profound and traumatic," says
Pregnant and Stressed? How to Tell
While studies are teaching us some of the deleterious effects of stress,
they're also helping to validate that stress reduction can offer both mother
and baby important benefits.
The stumbling block, say doctors, is that many women are not aware of just
how stressed they are or the simple ways they can control it.
"When we think of stress we tend to think of the big, easy-to-identify
events, or even the annoying factors we encounter every day. What we don't
realize is that how we care for ourselves on a daily basis holds the real key
to stress control," says Hobel.
Among the most important decisions, he says, is to pay attention to good
"Not eating well during pregnancy is a primary way to increase your
stress load and whatever effects that may have on your baby," says
Not only is it important to eat nutritiously, he says, but also to eat
frequent, small meals.