I have a high stress job. How will that affect my pregnancy?

When you’re stressed, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode, sending out a burst of cortisol and other stress hormones. These are the same hormones that surge when you are in danger. They prepare you to run by sending a blast of fuel to your muscles and making your heart pump faster. In fact, constant stress could alter your body’s stress management system, causing it to overreact and trigger an inflammatory response. Chronic stress may also contribute to subtle differences in brain development that might lead to behavioral issues as the baby grows.

So yes, stress does affect pregnancy. But as an inevitable part of all our lives, it is unavoidable. And the worst thing anyone can do is to start stressing about the stress in their lives. The best thing to do is to change the things they can, and learn ways to cope with what they can’t.

With work stress, think about ways to take on a lighter load, or consider participating in a job share arrangement. Now is the time to wrap up projects, not take on new ones. After all, maternity leave is right around the corner. If reducing your work load is not possible, there are plenty of tools out there to help you manage the stress, including journaling, meditation, yoga, counseling and stress reduction classes. If you haven’t tried any of these before, pregnancy is an excellent time to begin.

Other options are to look for a class, book, tape, or counseling session that helps you cope with stress is beneficial, during your pregnancy as well as when you’re a new parent. And don’t forget to set aside time for regular, low-impact exercise and eat small, frequent, healthy meals and snacks throughout the day. The healthier your body, the better it will handle the inevitable stress thrown at it.

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