How Does Stress Affect Pregnancy in First Trimester?

It’s undeniable that pregnant women (especially in the first trimester) are more likely to have more stress and anxiety than others without pregnancy. Stress is emotional problem, but some studies found that there is a link between it and pregnancy. So, how does it affect your first trimester – what else you need to know?

Each trimester of pregnancy is crucial for the growth and development of your baby. But when it comes to discussing the effects of stress to pregnancy, first trimester may be the most frequently discussed. This period of first three months of pregnancy is often characterized by an invisible transformation to prepare your body for the growth of your baby.

Stress is more likely to occur in first trimester – is it true?

It’s clear that being pregnant can increase your risk of stress. But this kind of emotional problem tends to occur more often in the first 3 months of gestation, particularly true if this is your first pregnancy.

In early pregnancy, you are more likely to have more feelings of happiness since you will be a new mom. But sometime, you also tend to have more feelings of exhausted or anxious. All of these feelings can occur together at once.

However, it’s perfectly normal to worry about the health of your baby and yourself during pregnancy. It’s also very normal to worry about some new adjustments about your financial demands and other adjustments associated with motherhood.

You may also wonder about the issue of relationship with your partner during and after pregnancy. Then if you are working – your productivity may be another thing you worry.

stress_affects_pregnancy_illustrationFurthermore, the increasing hormones in early pregnancy also can trigger some discomfort pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness (marked by frequent bouts of nausea & vomiting), fatigue, dizziness, and problems of stomach. All of these situations can increase emotional stress to your life!

But soon after you get used with these changes, your stress should gradually decrease in line with your pregnancy – and then eventually you can cope with the problem.

How does stress affect pregnancy?

It’s clear that stress and pregnancy can affect each other. But the link of both conditions is still not fully understood. Stress can trigger the increased hormone of stress called cortis – and some experts believe that this hormone may contribute to some pregnancy complications.

While the clearly reason of why stress can affect a pregnancy is still debatable, in fact many statistics show that newborns with schizophrenia (a type of brain disorder), heart problems, ADHD (a kind of mental disorder), and even early miscarriage are pretty common in pregnant women who experience stress (uncontrolled stress) during pregnancy (especially in first trimester).

Possible pregnancy complications that occur due to stress in first trimester

There are some complications of pregnancy that may be caused by stress in the first trimester. The following are some of these complications.


Did you know that about almost 20 percent of pregnancies end with miscarriage – and most of them occur in early pregnancy, according to an article published on the trusted medical resource ‘Mayo Clinic’.

It’ still not clear whether stress has contribution for early miscarriage, but some studies showed that pregnant women who have uncontrolled stress in first trimester are more likely to experience early miscarriage than others who can cope with their stress.

However, many experts believe that stress is not only the single reason for early miscarriage. Instead, most cases of early miscarriage are caused by some of the following reasons:

  1. Abnormalities of fetal chromosomal development.
  2. Imbalances of hormones. This issue can be affected by stress.
  3. Problem of implantation that may occur due to the wrong immune responses.
  4. Problems of blood-clothing.
  5. Uterus-abnormalities.

Other facts that you need to know, women who have high levels of cortisol (a kind of stress hormone) are 2.7 times more likely to have miscarriage. And most cases of miscarriage occur in the 2 weeks of pregnancy.

Additionally, if you have a personal history of miscarriage in your previous pregnancy, stress management can be a crucial thing you need to concern as well in your next pregnancy!

The risk of schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a kind of serious health problem that affects brain. It can distort the way an individual relates to others, perceives reality, expresses emotions, acts, and thinks. In severe cases, this kind of serious brain disorder can lead to problems functioning at school, at work, or in society. It is chronic disorder and cannot be cured – but it can be managed with appropriate treatments and strategies.

According to some Danish studies, having uncontrolled stress in the first trimester may increase the risk of delivering baby with certain brain disorders, such as schizophrenia – particularly if you also have a family history of schizophrenia or other brain disorders. However, this theory is still debatable!

ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)

There is a possible link between ‘maternal stress & anxiety levels’ and a condition called the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder /ADHD.

Even the high levels of maternal anxiety may have much more contribution to cause ADHD in newborn if compared with other bad habits such as smoking during pregnancy. However, experts also believe that environmental factors and genes may also play a key role.

ADHD is often marked by the frequent unusual behaviors such as difficulty concentrating, easily frustrated, easily bored, difficult to follow directions, and impulsive. Children with ADHD are also more likely to move constantly and not stop thinking before they act. Most of these symptoms also can be found in children without ADHD, but they can occur more often than usual in children with ADHD.

Stress and gestational diabetes

There is still no clearly evidence that stress can trigger gestational diabetes (a type of diabetes that only happens in pregnancy).

If you have had gestational diabetes in your previous pregnancy, more healthy habits that you adopt, the better chance you have to prevent it in your next pregnancy. See also how to prevent gestational diabetes in second pregnancy!

If you now are having gestational diabetes, it’s important to control your stress. Uncontrolled stress and gestational diabetes can be a great combination to cause some pregnancy complications.

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