Anxiety during pregnancy has many faces and should never be underestimated.
Pregnancy is a special temporary status in the life of the woman; pregnancy takes many twists, and it is characterized by the dynamic flow and peaks of different emotional states. It is true that many of these fluctuations are due to the constant hormonal changes that occur throughout the entire period of pregnancy, but they can also accentuate underlying fears.
Anxiety and stress may be related to a long list of disorders for the expectant mother and the child she carries in her womb. In the past thirty years, the development of studies to determine the parameters of correlation between stress and anxiety in pregnancy and infant development have increased.
Indeed, a study published in 1992 by Marci Lobel, Doctor of the University of New York at Stony Brook, Dr. Christine Dunkel-Schett, and Susan Scrimshaw, Ph.D., University of California at Los Angeles, found that women suffering from high levels of stress and anxiety during their pregnancies were more likely to deliver a premature or underweight baby.
A 2008 study presented by Dr. Raquel Granell, University of Bristol in Britain in the Congress of the European Respiratory Society (ERS) in Berlin, found that pregnant women with high anxiety have a 65% higher chance to have a child who develops asthma than mothers with lower anxiety levels. This study also finds that nearly 13% of children whose mothers had experienced anxiety during pregnancy have asthma.
The study was developed with the cooperation of 5,800 families over eight years, and it found that the risk of asthma was 17% higher in children whose mothers were stressed at 32 weeks of pregnancy and 14% higher when the mother was stressed at 18 weeks. The results are even stronger in women in the group with more anxiety; for example, the additional risk of asthma reached 65% in the group of mothers with more stress at 32 weeks and 53% in the group most severely stressed at 18 weeks.
In another interesting and original study conducted by Dr. James McCubbin, PhD, and other researchers at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, the blood pressure in pregnant women was measured prior to a stressful arithmetic task. All women had normal blood pressure readings before the task. This 1996 study revealed that women with greater increases in diastolic blood pressure (a blood pressure reading systolic and diastolic, such as 110/80) were more likely to have premature babies or babies with lower than average birth weights.
The researchers speculated that high levels of hormones associated with stress can affect both the maternal blood pressure and fetal growth and development. Studies like this suggest that it may be possible to identify a group of women who may be at risk for delivering preterm or low birth weight babies and provide stress reduction techniques to help reduce this risk.
Anxiety, stress and fears are often manifested by sudden changes of mood and nervousness.
Here is a list of the most common fears reported by pregnant women and new mothers:
• Fear of death
• Fear of the unknown
• Fear of hospital intervention
• Fear of pain
• Fear of their own behavior during childbirth
• Fear of disappointing herself and her partner
• Fear that something unusual happens to the baby
• Fear of what will happen at home and to the couple after childbirth
Do not underestimate the anxiety in any case. Although fears are natural (sometimes we refer to them as a subconscious protective response that all human beings have), the fears can hide an underlying state of despair that can lead to prenatal depression if the mom does not receive the right amount of attention, affection and understanding in a timely manner.
Also, as a self-help measure, it is advised that the expectant mother knows how to identify those factors that have a direct effect in altering her wellbeing and quality of life. It is recommended to avoid any stressing situations that can cause anxiety.
It is also highly advisable for the expectant mother to begin to prepare for birth consciously and in advance. A good knowledge of her physical and psychological endurance will contribute to her awareness of her own possibilities and physical and psychological reserves, which will help her arrive at the moment of delivery with more ease and self confidence.
Reflexology can add an excellent element of support because it offers pregnant women the experience of receiving warmth and support from a therapist who works with not only his two hands but also his soul.
An observational study conducted by the Reflexologist Harriett Ryan of Ireland, presented at the First International Conference on Maternity Reflexology in Israel in October 2009 and promoted by the Israeli Forum of Reflexology, showed that children whose mothers received regular reflexology treatments during their pregnancies were mostly quiet, calm and happy, with a cheerful character and perfect health.
Reflexes to be treated:
A regular treatment, with emphasis on:
• Central and Autonomic Nervous Systems: Spine and Solar Plexus
• Evacuation Systems: Digestive and Urinary
• Metamorphic Technique
• The Jellyfish Technique
• The Parabola Technique