Tag Archives: Fit Pregnancy

Severe Stress is Toxic During Pregnancy

A little stress is to be expected when pregnant. But severe stress is extremely dangerous for mom and baby. Not only are high levels of stress and anxiety bad for you—but cortisol, the hormone released and triggered during these times—crosses the blood:brain barrier and the placenta.

High levels of cortisol is now linked to preterm labor, and researchers from the Royal College of London have also discovered that too much of the stress hormone creates life-long harmful effects for your baby. (There are many studies to read, but they are quite difficult with medical lingo…This article by The Guardian is quite good, as is this by Science Daily, explaining how dangerous preterm birth can be. ) Research shows that cortisol in the womb puts the unborn baby at risk for behavioral problems, anxiety, aggression and learning disabilities down the line. And, as mentioned, too much cortisol can trigger preterm labor—which, if too early in pregnancy—can have dire consequences for your unborn child.

When reading studies linking stress with multiple health risks for infants, it seemed clear that women needed some practical information. Just knowing that stress can hurt your baby, can actually cause you even more stress, don’t you think? So with that in mind, I loved identifying the top stressors during pregnancy, with expert advice on how to deal with them. The Fit Pregnancy cover article: “Beat The 4 Biggest Pregnancy Stressors,” is on news stands this month and I can’t recommend a better issue for your Labor Day reading. (And I’m not just saying that because one of my articles is in the August/September issue! I promise I don’t get paid per magazine purchased!!)

It’s not surprising, in this economy, that money and work are the biggest stressors facing pregnant women. If you are expecting right now, or trying to conceive, I don’t have to tell you that the economic climate is poor. Finances are likely your biggest concern. I also don’t need to explain why you might be anxious about telling your boss you are pregnant. Even if it isn’t talked about much— pregnancy discrimination does exist. It may be subtle—such as being passed over for a promotion while you are pregnant. And…it may be NOT-so-subtle, such as a boss suggesting that you likely won’t be able to carry out all your duties after you return from maternity leave. During economic downturns, corporate climates often cool in terms of additional company benefits and perks. (I used to write about careers and work-life balance for The Industry Standard, Forbes Best of the Web and The New York Times as a freelancer.) I recall my heart beating rapidly as I interviewed a pregnant employee of a start-up who had been fired and had to sue for  discrimination. These cases are rare, but it’s clear that mommy discrimination does exist in some corporate cultures. (Here’s a link to a Moms @ Work column I wrote for Fit Pregnancy with interview advice and expert suggestions to avoid mommy discrimination. And “Pregnancy Discrimination Persists” by Maria Vega is great as it outlines your rights as a pregnant worker. )

As one might imagine, stress with money and employment must adversely affect your relationships. So, number 3 is relationship stress—and boy, I wish I had this expert advice when I was expecting both of my boys!

Finally, the fourth stressor is health. Anyone with a pre-existing medical condition, such as cancer, knows what it is like to live with stress. But some of us panic at every pain or flu-like symptom and the panic—itself— can cause cortisol levels to surge. This surge is what you want to avoid. I loved speaking with the exerts who outlined specific ways to lower your stress.

These expert tips are life-savers and I really wish I had them when pregnant with both of my boys. Stress in American culture is just something we have to combat. My time in Italy this summer, as well as my trips to France over the years, make me wonder if the lower rates of  ADD and ADHD among their children has something to do with their more-relaxed culture. This is obviously for another article, but there has be a link between the stress in our American fast-paced lives and unforgiving corporate cultures, and these behavioral conditions we find in so many of our children in America (one in 20). Lets try to reduce those rates. I hope this article helps you and lessens your stress and allows you to bring a bit more joy into your life as you build the life inside you. Write in and let me know if this article helped, or share additional tips to lessen anxiety for other moms-to-be! Finally, additional perks with this issue include a breast-feeding guide, surprising super foods for baby and exercise tips!

The Jugglenaut

Yes, you read right: jugglenaut. My sisters and brother can tell you I like to make up words. (Think muddle instead of mud puddle among a zillion others I coined in my youth.) So, today is the perfect day to describe me as a jugglenaut. As you may know, a juggernaut is a force to be reckoned with. Or as Mr. Webster defines it: “a massive inexorable force, campaign, movement, or object that crushes whatever is in its path.”

Well, a single mom on a quest to get everything done in order to have a few hours of romance on a week-day evening, is a jugglenaut. For example, here’s how my day is going so far:

6:30 a.m. : Wake by a kick and I realize that both boys are in my bed with me. (I recall that the older came in at 10, then the three-year-old at 3 a.m.)

6:30 – 7:55 a.m.: Rush to make breakfast (yogurt, rasberries and orange slices); prepare a lunch my picky, older son will eat: roast beef sandwich with homemade thousand island dressing, marinated olives and rasberries (I know, he’s spoiled rotten.); feed all animals: fish, cat, gecko; get dressed; wash face; make bed; yell at boys to make beds; take out trash.

8 a.m.: Race to drop off my older son at school. Come back home for 45 minutes. In that time I do a load of laundry; clean the dishes from the night before; text babysitter to confirm she’s on for the evening; figure out what’s for dinner; get my younger son dressed; pull together cashmere samples (long story); send a quick note back to romantic interest; and just after getting into the car, discover three-year-old had a huge poop! Go back in, change Jamesy, then start over. Rush, now late, to our weekly mommy-and-me class.

9:30 – 11:30: Bake cookies; sing songs; chat with other moms; and play games with my son at mommy and me.

11:45 a.m.: My son and I deliver a decorated cookie to an adorable, older gentleman who is predominately stuck in his room at the moment.

Noon: Drop off three-year-old at day care and race back home.

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.:  Email a few prospects for my Fit Pregnancy story; line up structure for my gastric bypass article; email my producer at Dr. Drew for an upcoming article; tweet a bit to promote blog and other blogs; read about how to monetize blogs; nibble on almonds, apricots and a granola bar.

1:30 – 1:45: Chat with BFF on phone as I walk to my son’s school.

1:45 – 2 p.m: Nag older son about not eating lunch; force him to eat lunch; force him to start homework and drink water.

2 p.m. – 2:55 p.m.: Race to the strand and run for 3 miles and do bar ballet stretches on pier. (Had to after an insane yoga class two days before! I feel like my muscles will somehow harden forever after that class where grown men were crying!)

3 p.m.: Race to take older son to therapy.

Phew! So, that’s where I am right now, sitting in the therapist’s office. What’s next until 5:30 p.m.? Pick up younger son from daycare; race home; prep a yummy dinner for them since babysitter can’t cook (roasted organic chicken and roasted shallots, onions, carrots, garlic, olives and fingerling potatoes); SHOWER; FIND A SEXY OUTFIT; get older son in suit for his dance; kiss younger son goodnight; give babysitter nite-nite directions; drive older son to his Christmas cotillion and confirm his ride home and … then … SNEAK AWAY. I’m sneaking out for a date with a gorgeous man. All this running around will seem very worthwhile as I’m sipping a spritzer and am sitting across from him. 🙂