Pregnant Rachel Riley says troll stress impacted her baby's movements
Pregnant ‘Countdown’ star Rachel Riley has revealed her unborn baby stopped kicking in the womb for two days due to stress caused by online trolls.
Riley, 33, who is expecting her first child with her former ‘Strictly’ star husband Pasha Kovalev, said she blocked Twitter trolls in order to protect the wellbeing of her baby.
Speaking on the Trolled podcast with ‘EastEnders’ actress Tracy-Ann Oberman, she said: "I was very stressed and upset for a couple of days and my baby stopped wriggling for a couple of days.
"So at that point, it's like, 'You know what, nah It's not worth the hormones.’
"I've now changed most of my Twitter settings as you don't need to see them.
"They're not after proper debate. They're not after their minds changing. They're not doing it for virtuous reasons, so I block them."
Riley, who announced she was pregnant in May, claimed the abuse intensified in July after she endorsed a BBC ‘Panorama’ documentary critical of Labour's handling of anti-Semitism complaints.
"Being pregnant has highlighted that for me: I don't need this", she said.
READ MORE: What is parental burnout and what can be done to prevent it?
Now the star is joining others, including ex-England striker Gary Lineker, in a campaign to stamp out online trolling.
The group of high-profile celebrities pledged not to publicise any abuse they receive in an attempt to starve trolls of attention.
How can stress impact pregnancy?
Although it isn’t always easy, according to Doctify’s Dr Anne Henderson, where possible stress should be avoided in pregnancy, but particularly in late pregnancy.
“The stress hormones, otherwise known as ‘fight or flight’ hormones, can trigger the onset of labour,” she explains.
“This is particularly the case for adverse stress such a bereavement or divorce. It may be nature’s way of ending the pregnancy to allow the woman to focus fully on the stressful event, bizarre though that may sound!”
Experts say that the most significant potential impact is the risk of high blood pressure.
“When there is an acute emotional response in the body, adrenaline is released. This can elevate blood pressure and occasionally lead to medical intervention,” explains Mr Ian Currie, consultant gynaecologist at BMI The Chiltern Hospital in Buckinghamshire.
So what do pregnant women need to watch out for if they are feeling stressed?
“Signs and symptoms can include increased tightenings, gastric upset, membrane rupture and in rare cases, bleeding,” Dr Henderson continues.
And like Riley discovered, stress can sometimes lead to a reduction in movement.
“The stress hormones also cross the placenta and can affect the baby, resulting in a change in movement pattern as well,” she adds.
Another concern is whether stress could bring on premature labour.
“Mild stress is not actually thought to initiate labour but the onset of labour is quite complex, and it is thought that many hormones are involved in the initiation of contractions,” explains Currie.
“It is therefore not unreasonable to think that severe stress and anxiety might have an effect although it is not proven.”
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It’s worth remembering, however, that even if you’re feeling stressed during pregnancy your unborn baby is unlikely to be harmed.
“Remember that our bodies are designed to cope with stress, so there's no need to worry if things do get on top of you every once in a while,” community midwife,
Clare Herbert told Babycentre.
“Even so, it does make sense to try to minimise any pressures you might be under. If nothing else, it’ll help you to enjoy your pregnancy.”
Any woman concerned about the impact stress could be having on their pregnancy should see their doctor or midwife.
Back in August researchers uncovered a link between an expectant couple’s emotional state before and after their baby is born - and the child’s own behaviour during their early years.
Research, that analysed 438 first-time parents and was published in the journal ‘Development and Psychopathology’, found that mums who suffered from prenatal stress and anxiety while pregnant were more likely to see their child experience temper tantrums, restlessness and spitefulness.
Additional reporting PA.