Anxiety isn't desirable at any point in life, but we've seen how detrimental it is for pregnant women and their unborn children. For example, anxiety during pregnancy can increase the risk of preterm births and lower birth weight. New research shows that anxiety during pregnancy can alter the patient's immune system.
Why is this significant?
When pregnancy occurs, the woman's immune system typically changes so that it doesn't fight against the fetus (considered a foreign invader) but remains strong enough to fight off pathogens.
The immune system of pregnant women with anxiety has been found to differ from that of pregnant women without anxiety.
So as it is, the immune system changes even when there's no anxiety, but for the greater good, to protect the child. But anxiety acts against this natural change and alters it.
And it's hardly ever beneficial when we veer against nature's way of protecting the body.
Worst is, pregnant women with anxiety usually resist taking anti-anxiety drugs for fear that it might harm the baby. But studies have shown that anti-anxiety drugs are compatible with pregnancy.
How common is anxiety during pregnancy?
Anxiety during pregnancy is common. According to the researchers, about 24% of women report anxiety during pregnancy. And, of course, there are those who don't even report it all.
But it can be dangerous. Anxiety during pregnancy can be pretty detrimental to both mother and child. We knew it could cause Preterm birth and lower birth weight, and now we know it can alter the immune system.
No one wants any of these
, which is all the more reason why physicians should assess their pregnant patients for anxiety during antenatal care.
But more responsibility actually lies on the patients. If you're pregnant, so many things are at stake, and your health and that of your baby are top priorities.
If you're feeling anxious, depressed, or stressed during pregnancy, it would greatly help if you could talk to a healthcare professional. They may be able to provide the care you need or refer you to a reliable mental healthcare provider.
It's all to ensure you have a safe delivery and are happy seeing your baby delivered healthy, at the right time, and of the right birth weight.
The study was published on Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.