The Physical Impact of Emotions During Pregnancy

The Physical Impact of Emotions During Pregnancy

Did you ever struggle to manage your emotions during pregnancy, or as a new parent? After all, during pregnancy, you are undergoing so many changes. At the time of pregnancy it is of utmost importance that you prioritize your emotions and health. This includes both your physical and mental health as well as your emotional well-being.


You may go through many emotions during pregnancy. While you may be excited about your little baby coming soon, you may also be worried about whether you will be able to be a good parent. As you happily make plans for how to best help your baby, you may feel stressed about all the restrictions you have during your pregnancy. While every kick makes you feel flutters of joy, you may experience anxiety thinking about how your identity or your relationship with your partner will change once the baby is born. Pregnancy is also a time when you may feel more stressed, irritable and frustrated than ever before. Every emotion you experience, has a physical impact on your body as well. For example, when you feel happy and calm, it allows your baby to develop in a happy and calm environment, allowing for greater growth and development.


It is beneficial to remember that our bodies and minds are not separate. While having positive emotions can have a positive impact on your body and baby, having too many negative emotions or poor mental health during pregnancy can negatively affect your body. This can also have an impact on the growth and development of the baby in the womb.


For example, studies have found that certain mood disorders like depression are often accompanied by physical illnesses such as headaches, fatigue and digestive problems, whereas a mental health concern like anxiety can lead to physical illnesses such as an upset stomach, acidity, muscle tension and body pain. Other symptoms that one may experience due to poor mental health can include insomnia, restlessness and difficulty concentrating.


Furthermore, poor mental health can also weaken one’s immunity. During pregnancy, one is already immunocompromised. This happens because your body is directing all its energy and resources to the development and well-being of the baby in the womb. Because of this your immune system may weaken. Having poor mental health during this period can lead to further weakening of your immune system and leave you vulnerable to illness during your pregnancy or early days of parenthood.  


When your emotions are out of your control, and your mental health is suffering, you may experience heightened pregnancy symptoms as well. During pregnancy, you may experience more nausea and fatigue than others. You may also feel low, constantly find yourself feeling irritable, and struggle to relax or find comfort. 


You may also experience more body pain, especially headaches and back pain. You may also struggle to manage the regular symptoms of your pregnancy, and may have sensations which cause distress. This can include problems with morning sickness, absorbing the right nutrients from prenatal multivitamins, struggling with weight during pregnancy, having complications during pregnancy, painful braxton hicks contractions, complications during labor, including preeclampsia, pre-term labor, and even risk of miscarriage.


Furthermore, an untreated mental health condition or mood disorder can cause a number of problems for the baby as well. For example, the baby may experience fetal distress, or have trouble developing properly during pregnancy. There are also some research studies that have found that a new mom who was struggling with depression during pregnancy is more likely to have a baby who has a low birth weight.


Once the baby is born and a new mom is still adjusting to motherhood, they may struggle to adapt to the needs of their child due to excessive crying of the baby. The baby may still be impacted by the mother’s low mood during pregnancy. They may not eat well, may have difficulty latching when breastfeeding, may struggle to sleep properly, and may be cranky and upset.


Dealing with the physical impact of one’s emotions and poor mental well-being can be challenging. It can take a toll on the new parents and be a source of added stress as one prepares for motherhood. 



However, there are steps that can be taken to manage your mental health and emotional well-being during pregnancy. There are several things you can do to manage your emotions and inculcate a sense of positivity and good mental health. 


Connect With Others


Pregnancy is a time when you may be advised to stay home and not go out much. Yet, it is also important to feel connected and maintain social connections during this time. In this day and age of technology, it has become easier to keep up with your friends, relatives and loved ones. You can talk to your friends over the phone, connect with other new moms through online forums and virtual support groups, and talk to your loved ones through calls or even video calls.


This can also be time you take to reconnect and nurture your bond with your partner. After all, during pregnancy, having a supportive partner can be a source of comfort. Spend time with your partner and discuss your feelings and experiences that you have had during your pregnancy journey. You can also discuss your expectations about parenthood and child-rearing with each other. This can also be a time to improve emotional intimacy and remember the relationship y’all share with one another, beyond the one of to-be parents.


You can also use this time to bond more with the other people in your life who have already experienced motherhood. This can include having conversations with your mom, your mother in law, your grandmother, or even your friends and siblings who have been through pregnancy. They may be able to give you more insights and perspective as to how to deal with the ups and downs and various bittersweet emotions that come along with pregnancy. You can also get tangible advice around what you should eat, what is a comfortable posture to sleep in, how you can find comfort and deal with cravings, and more.


Focus On Your Physical Health


Just as how you may feel unwell when your mental health is impacted, similarly it’s hard to think clearly or feel positive when you are feeling unwell and tired. Taking good physical care of yourself, especially getting plenty of rest and sleep, will help to keep troubling emotions in proportion.


It’s also important to eat several small healthy meals a day and try to avoid sugary foods, alcohol, tea, coffee and fizzy drinks. Speak to your doctor and make sure you are clear about what foods are allowed, and what are not allowed during your pregnancy.


Gentle to moderate exercise can also help to improve your mood along with your general fitness, and benefits the growing baby in your womb and has a positive impact on your labor. During pregnancy, try to build in some activity every day to improve your strength and stamina. Avoid heavy contact sports or any strenuous exercise, particularly if you weren’t active before your pregnancy.


Finding out about health benefits, appointments, what you should eat and what you need for your baby from your doctor can feel overwhelming. So starting a to-do list can help you get these things planned and organized. 


Practice Mindfulness and Other Relaxation Techniques


During pregnancy, it’s easy to get caught up in thoughts about what your future will look like once your baby arrives. You may also find yourself reminiscing on your life pre-pregnancy and thinking about how things used to be. Try to limit the time you spend mulling over your concerns, and give yourself a rest from being past or future oriented. Instead, focus on your unborn baby and take time to enjoy the pregnancy experience.


Many expectant moms find it helpful to practice mindfulness techniques or do something they enjoy. Using mindfulness can give your brain a rest from worrying, which will improve your mood and may help you to see things more clearly and in perspective. It can also help overcome the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety that you may be experiencing and can help you have a calmer and smoother experience.


Listening to music can be helpful in calming emotions and enhancing well-being in pregnancy. Some mums also like to keep photos or diaries to remind them of better times on days when they’re feeling down. Writing about your emotions and noting down how you feel about stressful events can also be a good tool for managing stress and anxiety.



Reach Out For Support


Bottling up your concerns will only increase your stress and anxiety. Discuss your feelings and worries with whoever you feel comfortable with. That might be your partner, friends, wider family, or even your doctor.


Talking to other women or couples may also reveal that you are not alone in your experiences. Joining an antenatal course, a pregnancy yoga class, or a support group can give you an instant support network. 


If you feel like you are struggling to manage your emotions or your mental health is getting impacted by many factors, you can also consider speaking to a mental health expert such as a therapist or a psychiatrist. They can help you better understand the concerns that you are experiencing and equip you with the right coping tools to deal with them.


No matter what, remember that each pregnancy is unique and has its own journey. During different stages of your pregnancy, you may find different strategies may benefit you in managing your emotions and mental health. Explore your different options to see what works best for you.


At the end of the day your physical and emotional well-being is of utmost priority, and you need to do what is best for you and the baby in your womb. Especially, since every physical and emotional experience you have is also going to impact your baby. After all, when you take proper care of yourself, it becomes easier to consider the needs of others and to take care of others.

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