An inevitable by-product of modern living is stress and anxiety. Add a pregnancy into the mix, even a planned one, and your anxiety levels could soar substantially. This is especially true if you’re worried about labor, finances after baby is born, your ability to adjust to being a mom or not getting the kind of caring spousal support you need. Sometimes, prenatal anxiety can translate into postpartum lows. Alternatively, if you haven’t managed to adjust to the demands of parenting and find the joy of it, your parental stress can have a direct negative impact on your child. As a result, your child may experience developmental delays such as slower motor skills and speech challenges. Find out more at Mommy Authority, for example, how this affects children at a genetic level as well.
In the same way that post-birth exposure to parental worry, strain and tension can impact your child genetically, it can do so prior to birth – and impact your baby’s actual brain development.
Your baby’s exposure to stressors in the womb, which is his or her first environment, sets the course for later consequences in what is known as fetal programming.
This is especially true in the second half of your pregnancy, when neural pathways in the baby’s brain are forming. Consequently, your child may develop ADHD, behavioral or cognitive problems, or show symptoms of anxiety or depression.
In the normal course of events, if your anxiety is anything more than very mild, the first recourse is often anti-anxiety drugs which restore the chemical balances in the brain. Not all medications taken during pregnancy are risk-free though. One option is to take a natural supplement that is cGMP certified; contains key ingredients such as Brahmi, Taurine and Lemon Balm; and that preferably has two different formulations – one to calm the day symptoms of nervousness and worry, and one to help with anxiety-related insomnia at night.
Another critical arsenal in your weaponry is pregnancy-suitable exercise. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG) recommends that if there is no medical reason to avoid exercise, you should aim for a minimum of 20 minutes a day of moderate exercise. The ACOG further recommends that modified yoga is one of the top activity routines to either start or continue with throughout pregnancy.
The main benefits have been isolated as helping to prevent gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), lower back pain and preeclampsia. It has also been linked to a quicker recovery time post birth.
As for combatting tension and anxiety, exercise plays a direct role by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. This is one of the most important ‘feel-good’ hormones that can counter the damaging overall effects of cortisol, which is released by the adrenal glands during times of stress.
Yoga, specifically, has been scientifically proven to assist with a whole spectrum of neurobiological functions. Yoga, being a mindful practice, changes the chemical composition of the brain – and consequently the health of your fetus – for the better. This is because your thoughts and what you do deeply affect the brain’s chemicals and responses to the stimuli it receives.
Most prenatal yoga classes are specifically designed with safety in mind. If you’re attending a general yoga class, opt out of Bikram or ‘hot’ yoga as it involves doing strenuous positions in a heated room, which is too risky during pregnancy.
Enjoy your yoga stretches and try to block out everything else. A good focus is how good and relaxed you feel, and how the wellbeing of your baby is being enhanced too. Set a realistic pace for yourself and follow your instinct when something feels too demanding.
Don’t over exert yourself, stay comfortable and remain hydrated. Do not lie on your belly or back, and bend from your hip down, not your back. Also avoid deep forward or backward bends and twists. Use props as your pregnancy progresses to help stabilize you.
Gentle or prenatal yoga is one of the most enjoyable and easy-to-implement feel-good practices you can implement during your pregnancy. Give your baby the best chance for optimal neurological and genetic development by making your mental and physiological wellbeing a primary focus during these special nine months.