Maternal Stress and Infant Development

Maternal Stress and Infant Development

Being pregnant is a beautiful thing, but it can also be very stressful for any woman who is trying their hardest to keep her child as healthy as possible. There are a lot of changes that happen during pregnancy, and women are undergoing emotional, hormonal and physical stress from all of the changes that happen. This can cause stress in expectant mothers, which can be very dangerous not only for the mom but for infants as well.

The more you know about how maternal stress impacts infant development, the better off you and your baby will be during your pregnancy and birth. This is because stress results in increases in cortisol, norepinephrine and inflammation which could impact the fetal environment during pregnancy. This can lead to implications for both the mom and infant.

Maternal stress has been associated with poor birth incomes and can result in premature birth and low birthweight. Of course, it can be hard to eliminate stress completely during pregnancy. However, additional stressors such as serious illness, moving, financial stress and death of a loved one can all add to this stress.

Maternal stress doesn’t just impact the baby during pregnancy—it can also impact the baby during their first few weeks of life.

One study that looked at infants around two months old—looked at mothers who reported higher levels of perceived stress during their early postnatal period during this critical time in their child’s life. The study that was used, infant EEG (electroencephalography), can actually be used to test the association between caregiver stress and neurodevelopment in young infants.

Ultimately this study found that high levels of perceived maternal stress during early infancy can impact neural development including the possibility of impacting learning, behavior and health.

The first few weeks of life after a full pregnancy can be veryoverwhelming for any new mom, but it is so important to the health of both the mother and infant to try and manage this stress as best as possible.

We are here to help you and your infant in any way we can to make sure that you have a safe and healthy birth. You can call us at 817-617-8600 to schedule an appointment.

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