Nine months may seem to stretch on forever when you're anxious to meet your baby, but the delay also allows time to ease into your new role as a parent. If you are stressed -- about pregnancy, birth, your work life and the inevitable adjustments that take place within your extended family -- it can affect your baby. Constant or sudden stress can cause premature labor because it releases a contraction-triggering hormone. Chronic stress can result in a weakened immune system for you and a low birth weight for your baby [source: Prior].
How much stress is too much? It's a hard call. Navigating the demands of career and family can be difficult, but for some women, leaving a deadline-oriented job for months of pre-baby resting can be just as stressful. It's all in how you cope with it.
If you're often anxious, confused or tearful, then it's time to ask for help. In the long run, learning to manage stress during pregnancy is good practice for parenthood. Learn how to prioritize, cultivate a support network and make a conscious effort to relax, whether through prenatal massage or simply some quiet "me" time. You'll be well on your way to a balanced life as a new mom.
Learn more about pregnancy by visiting the links on the next page.