Stress and pregnancy

"Try to relax during pregnancy. It's bad for the baby if you get all worked up."

I hated hearing advice like that in pregnancy—because it seemed to only compound the pressure I was feeling. Talk about adding insult to injury! But two new studies out now underscore the fact that stress can indeed be bad for baby, and expecting moms should do what they can to manage it.

One study out of Radboud University in the Netherlands showed that women who experienced stress during pregnancy were likely to have babies with a poor mix of intestinal microbiota, and with a higher likelihood of intestinal problems and allergic reactions. These issues could be related to both psychological and physical problems as the children continued to develop, the study indicated.

Summing it up, author Carolina de Weerth said, "We think that our results point towards a possible mechanism for health problems in children of mothers who experience stress during pregnancy."

Another study, out of the University of Cambridge, showed that increased levels of stress hormones in pregnant mice could lead them to overeat, and could potentially affect the long-term health outcomes of the fetus. That is, the fetuses of the mice with raised levels of that hormone tended to be smaller, despite the mother overeating, suggesting that a mother's stress levels may affect her child's growth.

Though it may be easier said than done, these new studies point to the fact that managing stressful situations and thoughts in pregnancy is important for staying healthy—for mama and baby alike.

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Alesandra Dubin is a new twin mom. She's also a Los Angeles-based writer and the founder of home and travel blog Homebody in Motion. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Twitter.

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