What you experience is directly connected to your baby when you’re pregnant, because you’re their everything. At this point in time, all they know of the entire world is you. It’s an incredibly special, and honestly magical, connection—but that connection also means that your baby can feel your negative emotions.
You and Your Baby’s Emotional Connection
Research has shown that, during pregnancy, your baby feels what you feel—and with the same intensity. That means if you’re crying, your baby feels the same emotion, as if it’s their own.
During the gestational period, your baby is preparing themselves for life in the outside world. How do they do this? By interpreting the messages you’re sending them throughout your pregnancy. A study from the University of California-Irvine found that the emotional state of a mother influences the development of her baby both before and after birth.
All throughout pregnancy, your baby is constantly receiving messages from you, whether it’s the sound of your heartbeat, or the music you’re playing for your belly. But did you know that they’re also receiving chemical, hormonal signals through the placenta? These signals include ones connected directly to your emotional state. If you’re very sad, or suffering from depression, your baby experiences those feelings as well. Your emotional state affects your baby’s development for a significant portion of their life.
Depression is a serious, but treatable, condition that can have a serious impact on your unborn baby. Depression in pregnant mothers can actually lead to neurological problems and psychiatric issues in your child. In addition to this, older children whose mothers suffered from anxiety during their pregnancy actually have certain differences in their brain structure.
Protect You and Your Baby’s Mental Health
It’s important for any mother—or any person for that matter—experiencing anxiety or depression to seek treatment. Unfortunately, many pregnant women don’t think about having a psychological or psychiatric evaluation before giving birth.
But one of the best things you can do for your baby during the gestational period is to try to maintain a balanced emotional state. We know there’s a lot to be stressed about (even without being pregnant!) so make sure you’re taking time for you, as well as seeking treatment if necessary.
According to research, mood swings affect your baby the most. Why? Because your baby will actually feel insecure when they’re experiencing constant short bursts of happiness, followed quickly by negative emotions. These imbalances can affect your baby’s development—both before and after birth.
The range of emotions that your baby can pick up on are extremely wide. For example, if you don’t want your pregnancy, your baby can feel that same rejection. This can cause emotional problems for your baby in the future.
In this very important stage of pregnancy, where you and your baby are developing a lifelong bond, it’s crucial to take care of yourself. There’s endless information out there about what to eat, what not to eat, how to exercise, etc. while pregnant—but your mental health is just as important, if not more so.
For more pregnancy research and advice, check out our blog page. To book your first maternity appointment, click here!