Pregnancy can simultaneously be a deliriously happy time and the cause for a lot of stress. There are doctor’s appointments to make, registries to create, a nursery to plan, and sometimes, family members to manage. Not to mention this is a huge life event and everything is going to change once the baby is here. While you’re taking a deep breath for what seems like the millionth time today, you may be wondering, can stress cause a high-risk pregnancy? And if so, what can you do about it rather than move to a remote island for the rest of your pregnancy, away from everything and everyone?
Dr. Sherry Ross, OB-GYN and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, says that stress and stressors directly affect a person’s health, whether anyone wants to admit it or not. “Stress quietly and silently affects us, and if you are carrying a passenger in the womb, there are negative consequences affecting both of you,” she tells Romper in an email interview.
Dr. Angela Jones, an OB-GYN and Astroglide’s resident sexual health advisor agrees, and says stress can “absofreakinglutely” cause a high-risk pregnancy. “Elevated levels of stress can be associated with elevations in blood pressure. In pregnancy, that can manifest into hypertensive disorders, which can in turn lead to things such as growth restriction during pregnancy and small birthweight babies. Preterm labor or contractions can also be associated with increased levels of stress,” she says in an email interview with Romper.
Jones says because stress also leads to a lack of sleep and eating abnormally, this can cause weight gain, which gives you an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes, another issue that causes a high-risk pregnancy. Ross says, “When stress starts to affect you physically and mentally, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, weight loss or weight gain, poor concentration, accidents, high blood pressure, and…