RODALE NEWSROOM, EMMAUS, PA—Pregnant women who experience psychosocial stress could give birth to children more prone to insulin resistance in early adulthood, according to a recent study published in the journal American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Insulin resistance can be an early indicator of type 2 diabetes.
THE DETAILS: German researchers analyzed glucose-insulin metabolism in three dozen healthy young adults whose mothers experienced stressful “negative life events” while pregnant. They also tested 22 young adults whose mothers were not under major stress during pregnancy. The researchers identified negative life events as divorce, infidelity, a breakup, death of a loved one, severe financial problems, a father in denial, being involved in a car crash, or becoming a political refugee. The study was funded with grants from the German Research Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
WHAT IT MEANS: Being stressed-out during pregnancy has been associated with a number of problems, like lower birth weight and premature birth. Should future research confirm a diabetes connection, it will be one more reason why pregnant women need to incorporate stress-busting practices into their daily routines. (And it’s a good idea for those of us who aren’t pregnant, too.)
Here are some antistress tactics that are particularly helpful if you’re pregnant:
• Engage in a mini-mindfulness session. Mindfulness is all about focusing on the present moment, without judgment, to avoid stressing over the future. If you find yourself overcome with stress, hit the pause button and start paying attention to everything around you—the smells, the rhythm of your breath. It brings you back to the present to knock down anxiety over “what’s next.”
• Strike a yoga pose. Yoga is a well-established stress-buster; seek out yoga classes designed for pregnancy. Steer clear of postures that involve jumping, lying on your back, twisting or putting pressure on your abdomen. Try the Yoga Alliance to find experienced instructors in your area.
• Eat your way out of stress. Stress sometimes brings on binge eating, but there are certain foods that can keep you more relaxed. Try a quarter cup of almonds, pistachios, walnuts; a cup of skim milk; or old-fashioned oatmeal with a swirl of jam to combat daily stress.
Check out the remedy finder for more ways to ease stress