The Impact of Mother's Emotional and Physical State on the Prenatal Environment

The Impact of Mother's Emotional and Physical State on the Prenatal Environment
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  • 0:05 Prenatal Link
  • 0:56 Stress and the Unborn Child
  • 2:13 Physical Health and Nutrition
  • 3:24 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lisa Roundy

Lisa has taught at all levels from kindergarten to college and has a master's degree in human relations.

An unborn child and its mother are connected both physically and emotionally. Learn how prenatal development is affected by both the emotional and physical state of the mother in this lesson.

Have you ever heard the phrase, 'When mom is happy, everyone is happy'? Well, for mom's unborn child, this isn't just a funny saying; it's a reality. The same is true for when mom is sad, or angry or feeling stressed.

An unborn child is connected to its mother both physically and emotionally. Because of this, the mother's physical state and emotional state can both have an impact on prenatal development. The environment inside the uterus, where the unborn child is developing, is called the prenatal environment. The prenatal environment of the developing child is linked to both the mother's physical and emotional condition. In other words, everything the mother experiences, the baby experiences as well.

Stress and the Unborn Child

We all know that stress can have numerous negative effects on our lives. But can this stress also have an impact on an unborn child? The answer to this question is yes. If a mother is under a great deal of stress, so is her unborn child. The stress can come from many different places - illness, a physically demanding work environment, abuse or excessive emotional strain can all cause pregnant women undue stress.

One way the impact of the mother's stress level is evident, is that a rise in the mother's blood pressure causes a rise in the blood pressure of the developing child as well. Also, fetal heart rates are notably increased when the mother has a high level of stress hormone in her body.

Normally, the placenta offers the fetus some protection from stress hormones. But when the mother experiences high levels of stress, this protection can become compromised. This could have some lasting effects on the developing child. These stress hormones can also affect the mother's vascular function, which could result in reduced blood flow to the fetus. If blood flow is reduced, the amount of oxygen and nutrients being delivered is reduced as well. This can negatively affect fetal growth.

Physical Health and Nutrition

Maternal physical health and nutrition are also important for healthy prenatal development. Prenatal development can be impacted by chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. It can also be impacted by an illness such as rubella. The impact on the unborn child depends on how severe a condition is, how long it lasts and at what stage of prenatal development it occurs.

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