We know that stress can be harmful to pregnancy. It can cause an increased risk for a number of health problems for the expectant mother, such as high blood pressure. According to some new research stress during pregnancy may actually contribute to some problems for your baby, including an increased risk of eczema.
This study looked at more than 3,000 children in Germany. It found that women who reported experiencing stress during pregnancy were about one and a half times more likely to have their baby develop childhood eczema during the first two years of life when compared with women who did not report high levels of stress during pregnancy.
The study didn’t factor in postnatal stress – such as separation or divorce – and so it’s certainly necessary to do more studies in this regard. It might be that stress during pregnancy has a biological cause for eczema in young babies, or it might be that environmental stress is the contributing factor.
We do know that, when a mother is stressed, major biological changes occur for the baby. That includes the rise of stress hormones, and even a higher risk of intrauterine infection.
Your baby, in essence, starts to develop the tools to handle a high-stress environment during the development process.
High stress levels during pregnancy may contribute to a number of other health problems for you and for your baby, such as:
- An increased risk of premature delivery
- An increased risk of having a low birthweight baby
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- The possibility of developing long-term, chronic anxiety disorders
Some degree of stress during pregnancy is normal and expected, of course. But high stress levels seem to be especially dangerous for your baby.
The same techniques that are good for managing stress when you’re not pregnant – eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, exercising, and other stress reduction techniques – are useful during pregnancy, as well. If you feel especially stressed and can’t seem to shake it, consider talking to your health care provider about options for treating and dealing with your stress.