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3 Ways Stress Can Harm Your Baby

Hypnosis is not only good for increasing your fertility, and improving your childbirth experience. It is an incredibly powerful tool that will help ensure your pregnancy, and your child, are as healthy as possible, by reducing the stress of pregnancy.

Of course, we all know excessive stress is never a good thing.
     But do you know how much it can affect your unborn baby?

1. Stress Increases the Risk of Miscarriage and Stillbirth

Stress has long being linked to high blood pressure, premature birth and other health problems connected to stillbirths and miscarriages. Kirsten Wisborg from the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark says "We don't yet know for sure whether stress may directly cause stillbirth, but our results are enough for doctors and midwives to be concerned." Her studies showed that severe stress, even in the short term, could almost double the risk of stillbirth (although stillbirths are rare). Another study in 2008, suggested that women experiencing high levels of stress had an 80% higher risk of stillbirth than women experiencing only intermediate stress.

While pre-existing health problems, and several lifestyle factors are the most important factors influencing miscarriage, stress is also a key player. Elevated levels of a hormone known as cortisol is a symptom of stress. Increased cortisol levels are normal during pregnancy, but some scientists confirm that above average elevations could cross the placenta and interfere with a baby’s development. A further study of 1,962 women, found that those who reported high levels of anxiety were more likely to experience preterm birth, which is a risk factor for newborn infant loss.

(Sources: About.Com: Stress During Pregnancy and NewScientist.Com: Stress Increases Risk of Stillbirth)

2. Your Baby Could Develop Asthma and Allergies

A study of 500 low-income families was conducted by Dr. Rosalind Wright of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The mothers were asked questions about stress experience during their pregnancy (including not having enough money, food or housing, experiencing relationship problems, or violence in the neighbourhood or at home). The study compared this information to the results of analysing the immune cells from the cord blood. After accounting for other factors such as whether the mother smoked, and the weight of the newborn, the researchers determined the following:

The newborns of women who had high psychological stress during pregnancy were more likely to show immune responses that were linked to a higher risk of developing asthma and allergies, as compared to the babies whose mothers experienced lower stress.

(Source: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, March 18)

3. Stress Can Alter the Structure of Your Baby’s Brain

Katharina Braun, scientist from the University of Magdeburg, in Germany and colleagues at the University of Jerusalem in Israel studied the effect of stress on pregnant rats. Braun’s discoveries suggest that stress experienced by mothers can alter the structure of her child’s brain, particularly in the regions responsible for emotional development. In the study on rats, the offspring of the rodents who became stressed in the last trimester of pregnancy developed fewer nerve connections in the cingulate cortex and orbitofrontal cortex brain regions, which control emotions.

Additionally, the nerve cells in several other regions, including the hippocampus (which controls memory and emotion) showed abnormal branching patterns. The effects of this differs from boys to girls, with males being more likely to develop ADHD, and females being at an increased risk of depression.

Braun says, “Early experiences, especially emotional experiences, shape brain circuits for later life. The susceptibility to stress continues after birth, with different types of stress and trauma leading to different brain effects.”

(Source: NewScientist.Com: Stress in pregnancy hits offspring's emotional brain )


Although scientists and doctors disagree on the level to which stress can trigger miscarriages, stillbirth, birth defects or developmental problems, they do agree on one thing. That is, anxiety and stress during pregnancy may affect the baby in a variety of ways, both known and unknown. Simply put, it’s always a good idea to make stress management a priority throughout your pregnancy, if not your life as a whole.

To find out more about our Hypnosis for Childbirth relaxation and education program, or for a free non-obligation telephone consultation call 07 3392 0602 from within Australia

Alternatively you can email us, or fill in our online enquiry form.