Important secrets to being a happier mum

Whatever type mum you are, so as to raise happy children ― find joy within yourself first.

Baby cot? Check. Car seat? Check. Going-home clothes for baby? Check. Two months before her due date early last year, Janice Renganathan had pretty much finished ticking off all the tasks on her to-do list. Yet, prepped as she was, she wasn’t prepared when she started getting contractions at 35 weeks.

Janice, 35, recalls, “Work started piling up in the months leading up to my due date and as a journalist, my hours were long and hectic. I was also not sleeping well and I think all of this contributed to my high stress level.”

She was hospitalised for a day, given medication to stop the contractions and ordered to go on bed rest. When she stopped the meds a week later, she went into labour soon after.

“My water broke when I was alone at home and within hours of reaching the hospital, I’d given birth to Dylan ― he was four weeks early and a small baby at 2.8kg.”

Convinced that stress had sent her into preterm labour, Janice vows to take things easier for her next baby. “The last few months of pregnancy are crucial to my baby’s development, so for my next pregnancy, I’m going to prioritise well and make sure I avoid stress and any negative feelings as much as possible.”

“The body releases cortisol, also known as a stress hormone, in response to various kinds of stress and babies can feel this directly.”

Happy mummy = Happy baby

Many mums-to-be are reminded constantly to eat well and take it easy during those crucial nine months. However, most are unaware just how much a baby in utero can be affected by his mother’s roller coaster of emotions ― due mainly to raging hormones and environmental factors.

Explains Dr Hana Ra Adams, a marriage and family therapist at the Change Group LLP,” The body releases cortisol, also known as a stress hormone, in response to various kinds of stress and babies can feel this directly. In the long term, babies who are exposed to high levels of stress can be more susceptible to stress later in life.”

Research from the Imperial College London in the UK have also noted that cortisol levels in a pregnant mother’s blood can start getting higher from as early as 17 weeks’ gestation ― which is a lot of time for your little one to be exposed to stress.

Dr Adams adds that babies are so sensitive to their mother’s emotions, they might even pick up on a change in their breathing patterns. “Studies have seen babies scrunch up their faces and increase movements when they feel a surge of cortisol coming on.

How do you know you’re feeling fraught? Find out…next!