Know all about good stress and bad stress during pregnancy
When a woman is expecting a baby, everyone around her tells her that she would now need to be happy and relaxed. The concept is that she is carrying a child and the little child should not be exposed to undue stress. This is an age-old belief in our country, and, many of us dismiss this as an old wives tale, but there is some reality in this too. Did you know that the earliest brainwave activity has been seen in a foetus as early as day 21 of conception? Well, that’s true and even though your baby may not be hearing or understanding what is happening around him outside the womb, the baby can actually form some memories which then become a part of his life in the years to come. Stress increases the production of the hormone cortisol and this is also flowing to your unborn child. Hence, it is important to ensure that you remove those stressors from your life. Does this really mean that I have to start living like a hermit? Well, not really. There is always good stress and bad stress. Good stress is the stress of achievement, it is goal oriented, and it makes your heart beat in a good way. So if you have this amazing assignment and a killer deadline to go with it but it makes your heart sing, then go for it. This is good stress. But if something is bothering and niggling you to the point of distraction and making you feel uncomfortable then this is bad stress and you should work at removing this from your life. A few years ago, I had a young couple in my prenatal class. The mum was quiet in the beginning but as we worked together over the weeks she started opening up. She shared family issues that were bothering her and making her feel very upset. She was unable to open up to her husband and our sessions became a venting ground for her. She felt relaxed and happy and thought that at least for those few hours, she could share her concerns with someone without being judged. Towards the end of her pregnancy, she came in and mentioned that her doctor was going to schedule a surgical birth because the baby was in a breech position. Understandably, this kind of delivery cannot be vaginal as it poses a risk to the baby. Something told me that I could do something about this and that evening, I made a phone call to her husband. I suggested a vacation away from home. He was very apprehensive as they were already 37 weeks along, and going far would be a challenge and of course, not permitted by the doctor. I also agreed that going away from the city did not make sense, but how about checking in to a nearby five-star hotel for a few days? Just a short babymoon? He accepted the idea and I was thrilled that he trusted me enough to not ask more questions. They did take that babymoon, and to everyone’s surprise at the next doctor’s visit, the baby had turned into a head down position. Now I am not saying that this is the solution for every breech baby but honestly, it shows that stress can even make the baby resist natural processes in the womb. It has a deeper impact than we actually understand. It is really difficult to say I am going to be relaxed and stress-free for the next nine months but you can work on this one day at a time. Plan activities that you enjoy, meet with family and friends, spend time with your husband, pamper yourself. It is important to do things that give you pleasure and which put a smile on your face.Try and build in some gentle exercises in your day. Exercise is a great stress buster which can help you relax and feel more positive. Do check with your doctor before you begin and I would surely recommend joining a certified trainer for the class so that you can exercise safely. For my working moms, if you feel that your day is overcoming you, just close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, calm yourself and then get back to the task on hand. This can actually work for everyone. Meditation does not mean that you have to spend hours in a quiet state, at times even a few deep calming breaths is meditation. Remember, happy mums, make for happy babies.
M&B’s panellist Sonali Shivlani is an Internationally Certified Pregnancy Consultant and a child nutrition counsellor. She is the executive director of CAPPA India, and also trains aspiring birth professionals to achieve certification in pregnancy, birth and lactation counselling.