Anxiety in pregnancy, what effects it has and how to prevent it

The pregnancy It is a delicate stage in which many factors come into play to ensure a good state both to the mother and the baby that is brewing in the womb of the woman. Food, rest, stress, these are some of the points that should be monitored to prevent problems both in the present and in the future of the child once he has reached this world.

An example is anxiety in the pregnancy. A problem that appears can have important effects on the emotional development of children or behavior present in childhood. From the Department of Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychosomatic Medicine of the University Hospital Quirón Dexeus several negative effects of this feeling of restlessness in the pregnant women are collected.


Effects of anxiety

The effects of anxiety in pregnancy are related to the neurotoxic effect of maternal cortisol, a hormone with a strong link with stress. This is capable of traverse the placenta, and to produce possible epigenetic changes, modifications on the genes of the fetus. The investigation has not yet determined what they are and remains to be determined.

What has been observed is that these effects change depending on the gestational age. This fact is explained from the theory of fetal programming, which maintains that neurobiological systems are programmed for adult life according to the characteristics of the environment during very specific periods of prenatal development. The investigations define two moments of greater vulnerability: early pregnancy, weeks 12 to 22 weeks, and the week 32.


These in these moments where anxiety can alter the development of the child and giving rise to problems as:

- Premature delivery. Research has found a relationship between high maternal anxiety and increased prematurity.

- Low birth weight.

- Delay of fetal growth.

- Congenital malformations. Stressful events during the first trimester of pregnancy can increase the risk of minor malformations by eight times, such as cleft lip.

- Effects on neurodevelopment in the fetus:
Attention and hyperactivity problems that appear from 5 to 14 years old.

Behavior problems

Lower scores on the indicators of intellectual development, something that is clear in the intensity of the linguistic abilities.


Prevention of stress in pregnancy

Given the Negative effects of stress in pregnancy, it becomes evident the need to combat it during this time to avoid all these problems. Here are some tips from the American Pregnancy Association:

- Discover the triggers. What causes anxiety in mothers? Can these situations be avoided?

- Rest. Exhaustion and lack of sleep are two triggers of anxiety. We must ensure that the mother rests in this period.

- Exercise. Nothing to stay at home, you have to go out on the street, exercise (always taking into account the situation) and avoid the anxiety that causes to stay between the 4 walls always appear.

Damián Montero

Video: Coping with Anxiety and Depression During Pregnancy


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