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Relax? Relax! You’re having a baby.

Man and Pregnant WomanIt should come as no surprise that the period of time from conception through a baby’s first 18 months of life is critical to proper brain development – especially the neural pathways responsible for emotional self-regulation and attention control. The science isn’t definitive yet, but our increasingly frenzied and stressful culture may very well be a significant factor in today’s prevalence of ADD, ADHD, and other learning disabilities.

Research shows that expectant mothers who have a significantly stressful event or chronic levels of high stress during their pregnancy are much more likely to have a premature or low weight baby. A study published in the September – October 2009 issue of Psychosomatic Medicine found a link between expectant mothers with high cortisol levels (a stress related hormone) and lower weight babies. The indication from all of this research is quite clear: like it or not the effects of stress on mom are being passed along to her unborn baby.

The Body’s Response to Stress

While cortisol plays an important role in our bodies response to stress, it is just one side of the equation. A healthy nervous system responds quickly to stress: Fight or flight. Yet once the stressor or danger has passed, a healthy, balanced nervous system will quickly return the body to a relaxed state. Unfortunately, in our current high-stress culture, the body’s stress response is activated so often that the body doesn’t always have a chance to return to normal, resulting in a state of chronic stress.

In addition to the adverse effects on a baby, higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream (like those associated with chronic stress) have been shown to have negative effects on the mother as well, such as:

  • Impaired cognitive performance
  • Suppressed thyroid function
  • Blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Increased abdominal fat
  • Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body

Don’t Stress – We Can Help

Before you get stressed about all this stress, take a breath and read on. There’s plenty we can do to help you reduce the effects of stress during (or even before) your pregnancy and for the rest of your life.

  • How our office can help:
  • Chiropractic care
  • Stress Response Evaluation
  • Biofeedback and neurofeedback.

For years, chiropractic care has helped reduce the effects of stress on peoples’ health. Today, however, we are able to provide far more effective care than just a few short years ago. Our office offers a state-of-the art exam called a Stress Response Evaluation. This exam measures your nervous system in three different states: a relaxed baseline reading, under stress, and during recovery. This information will show us a great deal about your nervous system balance : over aroused, under aroused, balanced, unstable, or exhausted. From this information we will make recommendations on how best to proceed with your care.

Awareness is half the battle.

Another component to our care is something called biofeedback or neurofeedback. Awareness of your stress – and your response
to it – is often half the battle. While reviewing your Stress Response Evaluation you will be able to see how your nervous system responded to stress – as well as how it recovered. Even though the information is invaluable for the doctor, this process alone is enlightening for many of our patients. Being able to actually watch your reaction on screen can be powerful. This isn’t about how you feel you reacted to stress. This is exactly how you reacted.

For the record, most patients’ perceived stress is much different than their actual stress.

In certain cases, your doctor may feel that individual feedback sessions may be warranted depending on the results of the test. These are noninvasive sessions to help you learn to control your nervous system.

The benefits of a stress free pregnancy are clear – for both mom and child. Take a moment to speak with us about what we can do to help you at this important time in your life. We will provide a safety net of care, support, education, and technology to make your pregnancy as stress free as possible.

Contact us today to learn more.

Care During Pregnancy | Ludwig Chiropractic | (253) 735-0123