How Does Stress Affect Pregnancy in First Trimester?

It’s undeniable that pregnant women (especially in the first trimester) are likely to have stress and anxiety. Stress is an emotional problem, but it also does have an effect on your body physically. So, how does it affect your first trimester?

Each trimester of pregnancy is crucial for the growth and development of your baby. But when it comes to discussing about the effects of stress on pregnancy, first trimester could be a bit more challenging. The first three months of pregnancy are an important transformation to prepare your body for the growth of your baby.

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

It’s clear that being pregnant can increase your stress level. And this psychological problem may occur more often in the first 3 months of gestation, particularly true if this is your first pregnancy.

Of course, it’s a joy to get pregnant since you will be a new mom. But sometimes you may also feeling anxious, which may increase your stress.

However, it’s perfectly normal to worry about the health of your baby and yourself during pregnancy. Plus, you may worry about new adjustments of your financial demands and other things associated with motherhood.

You may also feel anxious about your relationship with your partner during and after pregnancy. And if you are working – your productivity may be affected. All these issues may factor into your increased stress level.

Furthermore, the increasing hormones in early pregnancy would carry a few discomforts such as morning sickness (marked by frequent bouts of nausea & vomiting), fatigue, dizziness, and stomach discomforts.

But soon after you get used to these changes, your stress should gradually decrease in line with your pregnancy.

How does stress affect pregnancy?

Stress and pregnancy can affect each other. But the link of the two conditions is still not fully understood.

Stress can trigger the increased production of a stress hormone called cortis. Some experts believe that this hormone may contribute to some pregnancy complications.

While the way of how stress affects a pregnancy is still debatable, statistics show that newborns with schizophrenia (a type of brain disorder), heart problems, ADHD (a kind of mental disorder), and even early miscarriage are quite common in pregnant women who had stress (uncontrolled stress) during pregnancy [reference].

There are some complications of pregnancy that may have to do with stress in the first trimester. The following are probably some of them:

Miscarriage

Did you know that about 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’ not clear yet whether stress does have a significant contribution for early miscarriage, but some studies showed that pregnant women who have uncontrolled stress in the first trimester are likely to experience early miscarriage.

But stress is not the single reason for early miscarriage. Instead, most cases of early miscarriage are caused by some of the following conditions [reference]:

  1. Abnormalities of fetal chromosomal development.
  2. Imbalances of hormones. This issue may have to do with stress.
  3. Problem of implantation, which may occur due to the wrong immune responses.
  4. Problems of blood-clothing.
  5. Uterus-abnormalities.

Women who have high levels of cortisol (a kind of stress hormone) are likely to have miscarriage. And most cases of miscarriage occur in early pregnancy.

Additionally, if you have a personal history of miscarriage, stress management is very crucial!

The risk of schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a serious health problem that affects the brain. It may causes problems of how you relates to others, how to perceive reality, how to express emotions, how to act and thinks. In severe cases ,it can lead to problems functioning at school, at work, or in society.

It is a chronic disorder – but it can be managed with appropriate treatments and strategies.

According to Danish studies, uncontrolled stress in the first trimester might 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.

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). But experts also believe that environmental factors, lifestyle issues (e.g. cigarette smoking) and genes may also play a role.

ADHD is often marked by the frequent unusual behaviors such as difficulty concentrating, easily frustrated, difficult to follow directions, and impulsive.

Does stress causes 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 have developed gestational diabetes, it’s important to control your stress. Uncontrolled stress and poor blood sugar control with gestational diabetes are dangerous, making pregnancy complications more likely.

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