What you need to know about stress during pregnancy
Some stress is normal, but if it’s more than that, here’s some tips on what to do
A bit of stress is perfectly normal in pregnancy, and it won’t harm your baby. But if you’re feeling depressed or highly stressed, then it’s best to seek support, to make sure your little one stays safe and isn’t distressed. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health so make sure you take care of your mind as well as your body.
The impact on your baby
Severe stress, anxiety and depression during pregnancy can mean your baby runs an increased risk of being born prematurely or being small for their gestational age, but stress is not linked to an increased risk of miscarriage. There is some evidence that suggests that stress, depression and anxiety in pregnancy may sometimes cause issues for the baby during their life, such as emotional problems.
There are many causes of extreme stress in pregnancy, from a natural disaster to the death of a loved one, but a common cause is trouble at home. Pregnancy is often a time of increased relationship strain and 30 per cent of domestic abuse starts in pregnancy. Sadly it puts you and your unborn child in danger, increasing the risk of miscarriage, infection, premature birth, injury and even death to the baby. But you can get help and it’s important for you and your baby that you are honest when questioned during pregnancy about domestic abuse during pregnancy. Support includes the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247- and dialling 999 if you’re in immediate danger.
Whatever is causing of your stress – whether it’s divorce or financial problems – the important thing is to talk to trusted family and friends. Often people are desperate to help and just need a steer from you on what to do.
Getting back to normal
Mental health problems in pregnancy are common. Around 1 in 5 women develop mental health problems including low mood, anxiety and depression during pregnancy - or in the first year after childbirth. It’s important to ask for help if you are feeling sad more than you are feeling happy, so if you’re feeling low for more than a couple of weeks, have a chat with your GP or midwife – they can assess whether you may benefit from treatment. Hopefully you will find counselling, and perhaps medication, make the world of difference - helping you thrive for the rest of your pregnancy, and when your baby arrives too.
Watch this NHS video on managing stress in pregnancy.