Today’s Pregnant Woman Has More to Manage
That the birds of worry and care fly over your head, this you
cannot change, but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.
~ Chinese proverb
A friend who was about to become a grandmother for the first time told me of her fears about her daughter’s pregnancy. The doctor was concerned about an early or premature delivery. My friend confided to me that she was worried that this had something to do with her daughter being a Type A personality and continuing to work long hours at her job. “Could someone under that much pressure,” she asked, “expect to have a normal baby?”
My friend wasn’t worried about whether her daughter’s child would have ten fingers and toes, two eyes and ears, and a nose. She wondered about the baby’s disposition, ability to rest, and overall health and wellbeing. Intuitively, my friend understood what research is now confirming: too much stress during pregnancy, if not properly managed, can affect the baby’s development in a number of ways. Stress, for example, is now recognized as a primary factor in preterm birth as well as a number of other later childhood problems.
The notion that modern generations are busier and handle more tasks at the same time than past generations is not only supported by research; it is common sense. While we may not need to plow the fields and do the wash by hand, we are juggling more variables, processing more information, and facing increasing psychological demands as our society becomes more technologically advanced. In our fast-paced lives, things change around us rapidly. Change itself is a significant cause of stress because when something in our environment changes, we are compelled to change our behavior. And changing our behavior can be an emotional event often accompanied by fear, anxiety, and even anger.
One of the things my friends’ daughter did when she became pregnant was to examine lists of physical and mental symptoms of stress like the one below. This was the first exercise she did to become more aware of her reactions to the day’s events. These aren’t the only symptoms of a stressful lifestyle, but hopefully you will find this exercise helpful to help you recognize when your tension is mounting.
Considering that many people have a misperception of how well they are handling the rising stress in their lives, how well do you know yourself? Do you find yourself. .?
__ Holding your breath under tension __ Rapidly shaking your foot while sitting
__ Now and then taking a sudden deep sigh __ Being very fidgety or irritable
__ Having a racing heart or sweaty palms __ Jumping to loud or unexpected noises
__ Clenching or wringing your hands __ Trembling all over