No matter how beautiful, pregnancy is a very stressful period of life for most women who experience it. Mothers-to-be are expected to be happy and positive, but the truth is they are more likely to stress about what’s to come. The fact is, pregnancy can have a devastating effect on maternal mental health.
Maternal stress increases levels of cortisol which can have a variety of consequences for both the mother and the fetus—from miscarriages to anxiety in newborns. Furthermore, recent studies indicate that high levels of anxiety in pregnancy can lead to long-term consequences in the brains of future mothers.
Maternal brains experience a set of changes necessary to prepare them for nursing a baby and developing coping mechanisms. In presence of stress, these processes are interrupted which results in lower brain reactivity and makes it impossible for them to interpret negative imaging i.e. they start perceiving neutral and negative stimuli in the same way.
Over time, this problem causes a lot of harm to their relationship with their child and the relationship they have with themselves. The inability to interpret, and responding to usual events in the same way they would to problematic events reflected on their ability to understanding the emotions and needs of their infants.
The same research showed that pregnant women who were members of supportive social groups rarely experience this problem. To be more specific, this means women who felt supported by their loved ones; it was never researched if this is objectively accurate.
All of the above proves that the best thing you can do for a pregnant loved one is to be there for them every step of the way. Whether it is with small surprise gifts or encouraging them to join some clubs, this kind of help will come a long way.