Stress in the workplace has become common for all of us. Indian mothers-to-be need to pay attention to stress, as it can affect conception.
What is stress and what is its effect on the body?
Stress is a psychological phenomenon that occurs in a situation where you feel fear or you feel threatened. Often, it is characterized by higher heart rates, sweating, higher blood pressure, panic etc.
When you are stressed, your brain commands the body to starts generating hormones which gets your body to respond quickly to the threat. But the body is optimally programmed only for shortlived threats. Once the threat passes, the same hormones help the body restore itself back to normal condition.
However, our modern lifestyle gives us constant stress due to work, society, wealth, family etc., This leads to chronic stress and results in these hormones constantly flowing in our body. This is not optimal for our body.
One of the hormones that gets secreted due to stress is cortisol. Cortisol in turn suppresses production of female hormones like oestrogen and progesterone. Interruptions in progesterone production can result in disturbances in ovulation. These disturbances can delay ovulation or even block it, during the cycle1.
Medical research on the topic of stress and conception is still evolving. However, evidence that has been collected in another area of pregnancy is telling. Studies have shown that spontaneous early abortions show a strong correlation to stress2,3.
How to reduce stress?
- Get regular exercise (nothing too extreme or stressful!). Even a simple walk can help.
- Yoga and meditation have been time-tested ways in India, to calm the body down
- Come home from work and do your favourite activity, or listen to soothing music or take a nice luxurious shower. Try some of the nice bath treatments available in the market. They can give you a nice refreshing feeling that helps reduce the stress
- Eat a healthy diet, drink water regularly and stay away from caffeine, and caffeine containing carbonated drinks
- Go out with friends
- Writing your thoughts down can be a way of reducing stress. Start a journal in the Parentree community.
- Join the Parentree group of women trying to have a baby
- Often there is a lot of social pressure to get pregnant. Seek your husband's help to keep inquisitive family away from you.
- Remember, no one gets pregnant in one ovulation cycle. Often finding out that you are not pregnant cycle after cycle itself leads to stress. Studies show that the percentage of women getting pregnant in one cycle is only 20 - 33% but by the end of one year, 75% to 90% of women get pregnant by trying at least twice a week4.
By reducing stress, Indian women can help their body get into the right state for getting pregnant.
1. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, "Stress System Malfunction Could Lead to Serious, Life Threatening Disease", September 9 2002
2. Whelan EA, Lawson CC, Grajewski B, Hibert EN, Spiegelman D, Rich-Edwards JW, "Work schedule during pregnancy and spontaneous abortion", Epidemiology. 2007 May;18(3):350-5
3. Nepomnaschy PA, Welch KB, McConnell DS, Low BS, Strassmann BI, England BG, "Cortisol levels and very early pregnancy loss in humans", Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Mar 7;103(10):3938-42. Epub 2006 Feb 22
4. Dunson, David B., Baird, Donna D., Colombo, Bernardo, "Increased Infertility With Age in Men and Women", Obstet Gynecol 2004 103: 51-56