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Pregnancy stress and blood-sugar levels – what is the connection?

Weekly pregnancy tip

 

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The impacts of chronic stress during pregnancy are well-documented – for mom and baby, including infant behavioural and attention problems and low birth weights. In my online program I dedicate an entire module to stress and the adrenal glands in pregnancy. I focus on how to reduce stress-points in relationships, family, work, and social lives, as well as coping mechanisms and ways to safely support the adrenal glands during pregnancy. It’s a huge topic and although it seems commonplace in today’s society to accept chronic stress as the “new normal,” there is very good reason to reduce stress during pregnancy as much as possible.

A recent study has highlighted yet another impact of stress during pregnancy: in normal pregnant women, enhanced long-term stress is associated with decreased insulin sensitivity and risk of developing diabetes.

When under stress (physical, mental or emotional), blood sugar rises in order to supply energy for the “fight or flight” response. When these blood sugar levels remain chronically elevated, our cells become resistant to insulin (the hormone that shuttles sugars out of the blood and into the cells). This insulin resistance, in turns, means that the pancreas has to work harder to pump out enough insulin, and can become fatigued, leading to gestational diabetes in pregnancy (Type 2 diabetes in the non-pregnant world). This effect is further compounded with the carb/sugar cravings that typically accompany periods of stress!

So we have yet another reason to decrease stress-points in your own life during pregnancy, and to support your body in being able manage stress when it does come up – whether through a healthy diet/exercise plan, getting enough sleep, and making time for laughter and creativity, or supporting your adrenal glands with safe herbal medicines and nutrients.

I hope you have found this helpful, and do let me know if you have any questions!

If you are hungry for more evidence-based information in your pregnancy, sign up for my free webinar: 7 Pregnancy Myths Debunked – and get the information you need to have a healthy pregnancy and a thriving baby.

And if you are a care-provider looking for evidence-based resources for your pregnant patients, please get in touch with us at support@myhealthypregnancyplan.com.

In health,

Dr Jocelyn Land-Murphy, ND

Terra Life

Disclaimer: The information and content provided is for general educational and informational purposes only and is not professional medical advice, nor is it intended to be a substitute therefore. Please consult the Disclaimer and Terms of Use for full details.

References:

Douglas Mental Health University Institute. (n.d.). Prenatal maternal stress. Centre integre universitaire de sante et de services sociax de l’Ouest de l’ile de Montreal. Retrieved from http://www.douglas.qc.ca/info/stress-prenatal?locale=en

Head, K. & Kelly, G. (2009). Nutrients and botanicals for treatment and str ess : adrenal fatigue, neurotransmitter imbalance, anxiety and restless sleep. Alternative Medicine Review, 14(2): 114 – 140.

Lin, Y. et al. (2016). Effects of prenatal and postnatal maternal emotional stress on toddlers’ cognitive and temperamental development. Journal of Affective Disorders, 207(1): 9 – 17.

Lobel, M. et al. (2008). Pregnancy – specific stress, prenatal health behaviours and birth outcomes. Health Psychology, 27(5): 604 – 615.

Valsamakis, G. et al. (2017). In pregnancy increased maternal STAI trait stress score shows decreased insulin sensitivity and increased stress hormones. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 84: 11-16.

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