While the birth of a child is an exhilarating phase for a first-time mother, it is also a taxing time, both physically and mentally. The woman is suddenly thrust into a new role from all the pampering in the pregnancy phase. To add to this the fluctuating hormone levels and it is not uncommon for her to feel low. Experts believe that even though some amount of anxiety is common, many first time mothers are highly stressed during pregnancy, and the number is surely going up.

Dr. Pooja Bandekar, Head of Unit, The Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Nowrosjee Wadia Maternity Hospital, Parel, Mumbai, said, “The stress levels in the first time mothers are surging up. There is a 10 percent increase from the last five years. Advancing age, lessen threshold for pain, a sedentary lifestyle, problems like obesity diabetes, hypertension, and other factors like IVF pregnancies can be the reasons. The stress does not directly affect the baby as the factors causing stress are tackled, and the babies are evaluated accordingly. Stressors aren’t allowed to pass on to the baby as the corrective measures are taken on time. To de-stress, relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, change of activity along with physical and physiological rest is recommended.”

Dr. Anu Vinod Vij, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Motherhood Hospital, Kharghar, said, “I have seen 7-8% of first-time mothers experiencing stress since last five years. Stress is commonly seen in the first time mothers who are in the higher age group, are career oriented and the ones who have conceived with assisted reproductive treatment (ART), which refers to treatments used to assist people in achieving a pregnancy wherein depending on the cause of infertility, the following types of treatment like ovulation induction (OI), artificial insemination (AI), as they are tense that how will this pregnancy go forward? The women may also exhibit symptoms like weakness, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite, owing to stress. Moreover, they may also get high blood pressure which is part and parcel of high age group.”

Dr. Anu Vinod Vij, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Motherhood Hospital, Kharghar
Dr. Anu Vinod Vij, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Motherhood Hospital, Kharghar

“Both physical and emotional changes take place during pregnancy. Sometimes, the first time mothers may feel depressed, anxious and experience mood swings like crying for no reason. At times, they may feel happy out of proportion to the stimulus. Furthermore, stress will cause high blood pressure and high pulse rate which will indirectly affect the baby. Psychologically, there is a connection between the mother’s and baby’s psyche. That is why mothers are advised to be happy and optimistic and be in a productive atmosphere, so that baby psyche is maintained,” she added. Stress in the first time mothers can be tackled with the help of a coping mechanism.

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“Relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, music therapy, and also identifying the triggers of stress, can be helpful. Furthermore, stressed women must discuss it with husbands and family members without any delay as this will help them deal with stress. In extreme cases, the woman will be referred to a psychiatrist, who will counsel and prescribe her medications. I urge the first time mothers that don’t let your feelings bottled up, as this can make your diagnosis difficult. Hence, speak to your doctor about your stress and its symptoms, and this will allow you to get back on track,” concluded Dr. Anu Vinod Vij.

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