Pregnancy involves a lot of stress, especially for first-time parents. And, experts have always said it is important to be relaxed during this period for the wellbeing of both the mother and her child.

However, many parents feel stressed out during the nine months of pregnancy due to several internal and external reasons, like residential move, death of a close friend or relative, marital problems, separation or divorce, job loss and money problems.

If both or any of the parent feel stressful when the baby is in the womb or in the first few months of the child’s birth, then the infant may have long term complications later in life, experts stated. Some of the major problems faced by children due to parental stress are mental health disorders, behavioral problems and fertility issues.

Mental Health Problems:

A study that focused on 316 pregnant women stated that babies born in the autumn and winter seasons are likely to struggle with mental health problems later in life. The research that was published in the medical journal Psychoneuroendocrinology found a link between seasonal mood changes in pregnancy and an increased risk of mental health disorders in children.

“Although maternal cortisol levels naturally rise during pregnancy, our data shows that autumn and winter babies are exposed to particularly high levels just before they are born. On average, women giving birth in the autumn/winter had 20% more salivary cortisol just before delivery than those giving birth in spring/summer,” lead researcher Ros John from Cardiff University's School of Biosciences said.

“As higher levels of cortisol in pregnant women have previously been associated with a higher risk of children developing mental health disorders, the new findings could explain why these disorders are more common in people born during the winter months. They don't, however, explain the reason why women who give birth in winter or autumn have these higher levels of cortisol,” John added.

Behavioral Problems:

A study that was published in the journal Development & Psychopathology in July stated that prenatal paternal health is tied to the behavioral and emotional development of a child. The research focused on 438 first-time expectant parents and analyzed their experiences at four, 14, and 24 months after the child’s birth.

The researchers used interviews and questionnaires to analyze the couple’s relationship along with the emotions and behaviors of their children. At the end of the study, they found that kids, who were born to parents with early postnatal relationship problems might exhibit emotional problems, including tearful and unhappy, being worried, being clingy and scaring easily.

“For too long, the experiences of first-time dads have either been sidelined or treated in isolation from that of mums. This needs to change because difficulties in children's early relationships with both mothers and fathers can have long-term effects,” lead researcher Claire Hughes from the University of Cambridge said.

“There has been an assumption that it's really difficult to get dads involved in research like this. But our study draws on a relatively large sample and is unique because both parents answered the same questions at every stage, which enabled us to make direct comparisons. But our study draws on a relatively large sample and is unique because both parents answered the same questions at every stage, which enabled us to make direct comparisons,” Hughes added.

Fertility Problems:

A study that focused on a total of 643 men aged 20 stated that early pregnancy stress in women can lead to fertility problems in their male children.

The research that was published in the medical journal Human Reproduction in May stated that men who were born to mothers with a few stressful life experiences were likely to have lower total sperm count, lower testosterone and their sperm were less likely to reach the female reproductive tract.

“The health of the couple at the time of conception, and for the woman her health during pregnancy, has a significant impact on the health of the offspring after birth, through childhood and into adulthood,” lead researcher Roger Hart from the University of Western Australia said.

“For a couple planning a family ... the best time to try to attempt to conceive is when both the female and the male partner are as healthy as possible, both with respect to their physical and mental health, Hart told Reuters.

stress Stress can impact every part of your life Photo: Pixabay