Do Unborn Babies Face Emotional Stress During Pregnancy ?

Question by defOf: Do Unborn Babies Face Emotional Stress During Pregnancy ?
Here is an interesting research article.
London, England ( — New research conducted by doctors in England shows that unborn children can face emotional stress during a pregnancy as the baby’s mother faces stress herself. Pro-life advocates say the study has implications for abortion as society learns more about the amazing development of children before birth.
The British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists released the results of the study on Thursday and says that unborn babies as early as 17 weeks into pregnancy suffer from stress.

The stress results when hormones transferred from anxious mothers reach the baby through the placenta.

Researchers measure the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone in 267 pregnant women and took blood tests and amniotic fluid samples from the babies. The fluid is a good indicator of what’s happening because it’s mostly produced by the baby during the pregnancy.

The doctors found that when the cortisol levels rose in women a corresponding increase the in the levels in the amniotic fluid were found. The link grew stronger as the pregnancy advanced, the physicians said.

Pampa Sarkar, an OBGYN who was involved in the study, discussed the results with the Metro newspaper in the UK.

“We now need to carry out further work to unravel the mechanisms by which maternal stress affects the fetus, both during fetal life and through into childhood,” she said.

Sarkar suggested that mothers to be avoid stress and have a healthy and carefree lifestyle during the pregnancy and that her partner and family encourage her and be supportive during the nine months.

Michaela Aston, spokeswoman for the pro-life charity Life, told the Metro that the study had an impact on the abortion debate because the stress levels were found at 17 weeks into pregnancy.

She said that meant that babies were liking experiencing negative mental health effects of worried or anxious mothers who had abortions up to 24 weeks, the legal limit in Britain.

Best answer:

Answer by abafna
Seeds of health are planted even before you draw your first breath, and that the nine short months of life in the womb shape your health as long as you live.” These words of Sharon Begley and William Underhill in a Newsweek article Shaped By Life In The Womb eloquently describe the importance of the gestational period on an individual for his or her life-time.

Some scientists now believe that the effect of the life in the womb on emotional and physical health may be greater than that of the genes we inherit. The conditions in the uterus, ranging from mother’s hormones to the nutrients supplied through the placenta, may significantly determine how a baby’s liver, heart, kidneys, brain and mind will function during the adulthood.

In the Seventies and the Eighties, we learned that if mothers during pregnancy ingested such substances as the alcohol, cocaine, caffeine, and tobacco, they could harm their babies’ physical and mental health, notably, lower the birth weight, height, and head circumference, and impair attention, memory, intelligence, and temperament. Likewise, we have known for a while that if a mother experiences excessive stress or suffers from an emotional trauma, her baby may be born with certain deficiencies which may persist into adulthood and cause more complications.

In the Nineties, we are beginning to understand how the stress and mother’s emotional state affects her unborn baby. Take, for example, a stress hormone called Cortisol. When we are under stress, we manufacture cortisol. If you experience occasional stress, cortisol doesn’t create a problem. However, if you remain under stress for a long time, cortisol may be too much for your body to handle. Cortisol can cause high blood pressure problems. A mother’s excessive Cortisol can reach the baby in the womb and raise the baby’s set point for blood pressure forever. This baby, when reach adulthood, is likely to suffer from high blood pressure.

Many mothers during pregnancy face extremely stressful circumstances. They are confronted with such unhealthy situations as the break-up of their marriage, physical or emotional abuse, open infidelity or simply disinterested and uninvolved partners who prefer staying out to staying home and supporting their pregnant partners. These mothers experience constant stress, shame, loneliness and, sometimes, clinical depression during pregnancy or after giving birth.

The babies of these mothers are exposed to a variety of stress hormones, toxins and malnutrition inside the womb. Some of these babies will continue to live in the same or often worse noxious environment. No wonder some will later become hyperactive, underactive, inattentive, or temperamental and exhibit poor self-control. Many of these children are later medicated with Ritalin or antidepressants. Not everyone understands that the problems a child exhibits today may have resulted from events that occurred several years ago.

Most of the gynecologists and obstetricians I have talked with are psychologically sensitive and recognize when their patients need psychological support. However, when referred for therapy, many feel embarrassed and hardly ever show up for psychological consultation. Their partners or families may not encourage them to seek help because the problem it is not seen as a medical one. Doctors are understandably reluctant to prescribe psychiatric medications because of pregnancy or breast-feeding considerations.

Thus, a woman in such a situation suffers alone and remains isolated from her support system. She is expected to transcend all such adverse circumstances, and some do. Others don’t have the emotional strengths to cope. Some have struggled with depression and anxiety all their lives. Moreover, even when they are seemingly coping with the excessive stress, they might still be constantly producing stress hormones and toxins and some will reach the baby in the womb.

Maternal stress during pregnancy is also found to cause of asymmetry in coordination of ears, fingers, feet, elbows, etc. As a result, I.Qs of such children are found to be lower. Maternal stress is also linked with imperfections in the developing nervous system which can lead to problems of perception, thinking, and memory.

All of us want happy children. Happy children grow out of happy babies. Happy babies are born to happy mothers. Therefore, partners, families and friends of expectant mothers should do their best to make an expectant mother happy and relaxed. If she is depressed, nervous, or tense, encourage her to seek help.

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