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Here's How Prolonged Stress Can Impact Your Pregnancy & Labor

With all of the latest controversy regarding the possible relationship and fidelity issues surrounding the soon-to-be first-time mom Khloé Kardashian and her boyfriend Cleveland Cavaliers player Tristan Thompson, it's no wonder that the internet is worried about how it could affect her pregnancy. Everyone knows stress isn't good for you, but now that she's given birth, is it because of the situation? Can stress bring on labor? Daily Mail reported that Thompson was cheating on Kardashian throughout her pregnancy (Romper has reached out to Thompson's reps for comment, but has not heard back), which is devastating enough, but how does it affect her delivery?

According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, it's possible that the hormones involved in stressful situations and chronic stress can not only bring about childbirth, it can potentially trigger premature labor in women nowhere near their due date. They remark that "proposed mechanisms include stress-induced alterations in immune function leading to infection, stress effects contributing to vascular complications, [and] stress-related behaviors." That is to say that it's not just one type of stress, but any type of stress on the body can lead to increased hormonal activity that might trigger labor.

Does that include the possibility that the stress from allegations of a very public affair while you're in the late stages of your pregnancy? Perhaps if it's chronic in nature, according to the Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health. Researchers wrote, "Repetitive, ongoing marital discord without resolution is an example of chronic stress; the threat is not resolved and does not allow one to return to homeostasis." While the Kardashian/Thompson couple are not married, they are in an ostensibly committed long term relationship. However, does this alleged snafu point to a chronic problem or stressor in their relationship? My name isn't Khloé Kardashian, so I can't even guess at that.

Because, let's be honest, while we may know more about them than we do about basic social studies or what's going on in the world, we really don't know what's happening in their lives. We know she just had a baby girl, (mazel!) and we'll probably watch her grow up. But we don't know more than that. However, based on the situation, we may find we have our own questions to answer. We may be in stressful situations ourselves. You might be going through a job change or moving, or something even more stressful like family illness or substance abuse. The question is, can stress bring on labor?

I spoke Dr. Angela Jones, M.D., FACOG, and asked her about stress. She tells Romper, "My gut response is hell to the yeah, but it’s not as simple as it may sound." Nothing ever is, am I right? She questions if one single stressful event — like a note of infidelity or the like — could trigger labor. "Probably not," but it's easy to see how stress can balloon into something more.

Jones tells Romper, "However, I do feel, and I think the literature will support, that continued stressful environments can negatively impact a pregnancy leading to things such as preterm birth, low birth weight, hypertension," and more.

It's no wonder. Think of everything you know that stress does to you. I know that when I'm stressed out, my period goes haywire. I know that in the weeks leading up to dissertation proposals, I get hives every single night. It stands to reason that something that is so strongly tied to hormones and your body would react similarly.

Jones says that the risks of stress to a pregnancy and your body as a whole "is why it is important to find ways to manage stress, not just during pregnancy, but otherwise." Do what you need to do to try to find your inner zen. It's not always easy, and speaking as someone with chronic anxiety, I can tell you that it sometimes feels impossible. But it's important. Not just for you, but for your baby as well.

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.