How Does Stress Affect My Pregnancy?
Let’s face it….pregnancy can be stressful. We are constantly worrying about what is happening with our baby, if we are making the right decisions, and stressing about the birth process. In our society, we are faced with even more stress than ever before and this impacts the way that our body functions, and the way that we give birth. When we are stressed, we produce more cortisol (our stress hormone) which travels through the umbilical cord and goes straight to baby. We see that women who are under more stress have more pregnancy complications, longer delivery times, and more interventions during birth….which leads to more stressed kiddos (i.e. colic, reflux, constipation, immune struggles, ear infections).
Let me break this down….
When we are under stress, the sympathetic part of the nervous system (fight/flight stress response) or “gas pedal” mode is activated. When this happens, it suppresses the parasympathetic (rest/digest) “brake pedal” mode that controls sleep, digestion, relaxation, immune function, and growth and development. During pregnancy, you are LITERALLY growing and developing a little human inside of you. I think it’s fair to say that this part of our nervous system needs to be functioning properly! During labor, this parasympathetic or “brake pedal” part of the nervous system is what is responsible for producing the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin is responsible for uterine contractions. So, if you are stressed and your body is stuck in “gas pedal” mode, the cortisol (stress hormone) produced will inhibit the production of oxytocin and lead to longer labors, and more interventions during the birth process.
After birth, we tend to see longer NICU times, and babies who are also stuck in that fight or flight stress response from day 1. When this happens, babies don’t sleep well, their digestion sucks, their immune system is challenged, and they don’t grow and develop in the way they are supposed to!
The great news is…Chiropractic care can help! Chiropractic care suppresses the fight or flight stress response by activating the parasympathetic (“brake pedal”) mode through way of the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve exits the cranium right outside of the top part of the spine, and controls sleep, digestion, immune function, growth and development, and relaxation. When we are able to get the vagus nerve functioning correctly, chiropractors can stimulate the parasympathetic “brake pedal” mode, and get the nervous system out of the sympathetic “gas pedal”/ stress mode. This not only means a healthier pregnancy, but also a better labor and delivery, and a healthier baby!
If you have any questions about how stress can affect your body during pregnancy, how it can affect your child, or how chiropractic care can help, please reach out to our office, Blossom Family Chiropractic. We have the technology to be able to measure how much stress your nervous system is under, and how well your body is functioning. The best part is, these scans are completely safe for pregnancy and for kids! Feel free to reach out to us at 727-498-5643, and we will be happy to answer any of your prenatal or pediatric questions. 😊