Stress is a mental condition that causes a very physical response. The last time you felt “stressed” what were you really saying? Stress quickens heart rate, increases blood pressure, and decreases blood flow to extremities. The body physically prepares to fight a battle or run for extended distances. While the human body today may not be able to live up to these physical expectations, the body is going to prepare because that is what it’s wired to do. Research supports the belief that stress causes negative health risks for pregnant women, but genetic reactions cannot be changed. If it seems like a lose-lose situation, rethink the word reaction and learn how to reduce the effect of stress both physically and mentally.
Learning positive ways to react to stress
Some experts believe there is no way to stop stress-related reactions. That is true and false. True – the body will react to stressful situations with a fight or flight syndrome that causes very real physical effects on the body. False – the definition of stress has changed widely over the years. Stress today is associated with driving, exercise, work, and children. Expectations, friendships, lack of friendships, and many other factors cause what we define as stress. The body reacts because the mind has grouped these situations in the same category as ancient stress factors like famine and war. Redefining stress can help reduce stress-related reactions.
When you were small, the dark may have caused a stress-type reaction. When mom or dad turned the lights out at bedtime, the body immediately reacted to the lack of light. Vision changes, increased heart rate, and increased hearing sensitivity all happen within an instant. What a child may not notice is increased blood pressure and heart rate. The body naturally prepares for the worst when stress presents itself. Now, many years later, the dark is your favorite place and when the lights are turned out, calm has replaced stress. The body can learn to react differently to any given situation with time.
Pregnancy and natural stress reaction
If you are planning a pregnancy, attending meditation and relaxation classes is the best way to learn a better response to stress. It can take years to retrain the body and often women want conception to occur within a shorter time frame. While the body may still react to stress with a natural protective response, the elevated heart rate and blood pressure can be offset with relaxation techniques. After the baby is born, the same classes and methods can be used to gradually retrain the brain to define stress on your terms, not societal terms.