The Importance of Stress Management During Pregnancy

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You’re pregnant? Congrats! In the coming months, you’ll notice a lot of changes. Whether good or bad, these changes can bring on a significant amount of added stress. Stress is common and it’s all around us; it’s pervasive and inherent. But as a mother-to-be, you’re now dealing with stress on a whole new level, and it can affect you and your baby if not managed properly.

During pregnancy, the body goes through hormonal changes that can potentially disrupt the chemical balance within the brain, thereby resulting in elevated stress levels, depression and/or insomnia. If left untreated, this mental tension can affect your immune system and put you at risk for infection, and eventually lead to the premature birth and/or low birth weight of your baby. Some studies show that high levels of stress during pregnancy can also cause the baby to develop attention deficiencies during childhood.

Approximately 33% of women experience clinical depression and/or anxiety disorder at some point during pregnancy, with less than 20% seeking treatment. Those who seek treatment are usually prescribed medication, but here’s the catch-22: many of the medications used to treat depression and anxiety can often create new forms of bruxism, or intensify pre-existing bruxism. Bruxism is the involuntary grinding of teeth and clenching of the jaw, which occurs mainly during sleep. Instead of your body being at rest, the mind is now at the peak level of stress, therefore leading to a higher incidence of oral health conditions, like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), chronic orofacial pain syndromes, significant tooth wear and/or tooth fractures.

If you’re pregnant and experiencing significant amounts of stress, depression and/or insomnia, do yourself a favor and work on a stress management plan with your doctor. And while you’re at it, protect your mouth from potential damage by getting a custom night guard. Your body and your baby will thank you for it.

Andrew Lee