Stress allows us to face a situation in the most effective way. Many years ago, people could flee quickly when they met a lion, could jump a huge ditch or hunt a mammoth when they were hungry, all thanks to stress. In these situations, large amounts of cortisol, the stress hormone, are secreted.
In contrast, at present, the accumulation of high levels of stress can cause sleep disturbances, elevated blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems and even heart attacks.
During pregnancy, high levels of stress can have repercussions on the mother and the baby. Although the placenta protects the baby from external agents during pregnancy, when stress levels reach high levels, the stress hormone cortisol crosses the placenta and reaches the developing baby. We know that pregnant women exposed to high levels of stress can have their babies prematurely and underweight.
Babies who have been exposed to high levels of stress during their intrauterine development may have repercussions on their neurodevelopment (motor, cognitive, language). There is evidence supporting the relationship between elevated levels of intrauterine cortisol and fetal programming in the development of psychopathologies in adulthood.
For this reason, the study of stress during pregnancy is essential to improve maternal and child health and its repercussions in the short and long term.