EX­PERT SPEAKS

Know all about good stress and bad stress dur­ing preg­nancy

Mother & Baby - - CONTENTS -

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.

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