What Are The Benefits Of Nature And Outdoors During Pregnancy And Postpartum?

What Are The Benefits Of Nature And Outdoors During Pregnancy And Postpartum?

by Laura Grassi

Anatta Foundation

Abstract Researchs suggests that maternal exposure to natural environments (i.e., green and blue spaces) promotes healthy fetal growth. Residential surrounding greenspace is related to higher birth weight and lower odds of small for gestational age (SGA) and residential distance to greenspace is related to lower birth weight and higher odds of SGA. These findings may support implementing policies to promote natural environments in our cities, starting in more deprived areas.

What Are The Benefits Of Nature And Outdoors During Pregnancy And Postpartum?

The mental health and wellbeing of young women has been getting worse since the 1990s. In particular, young women are more likely to get depression or anxiety when pregnant or after giving birth. This can have long term effects for them and their children. It also costs a lot of money for the health system and social services. Support from family, friends, and community groups can help to protect people against poor mental health and wellbeing. Research has also shown that access to nature may be linked to better mental health and wellbeing.

Pregnancy and the postpartum period are transformative stages in a woman’s life, both physically and emotionally. While these phases bring joy and anticipation, they can also come with their fair share of challenges.

Exposure to natural environments during pregnancy could influence fetal growth. Ensuring healthy fetal growth is essential to preventing many adverse health outcomes early and later in life. For example, babies with low weight at birth (LBW, birth weight < 2,500g) or small for gestational age (SGA, birth weight less than or equal to the 10th percentile for gestational age and sex) have a higher risk of stunting, lower intelligence quotient, and death in childhood; and obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes in adulthood. An increasing number of studies have reported associations between maternal exposure to green space and increased birth weight and  reduced risk of LBW.

The postnatal period is a vulnerable time for mothers to experience stress and mental health difficulties. There is increasing evidence that spending time in nature is beneficial for wellbeing. Being in nature can benefit women during the postnatal period, mentally, physically, and socially. It can also help them to connect with their infant. These findings have implications for supporting postnatal mothers, potentially both in the prevention and treatment of postnatal stresses.

Mental And Emotional Health Benefits Of Nature And Outdoors During Pregnancy And Postpartum

Stress Reduction

Pregnancy and postpartum can bring about heightened stress levels. Nature and outdoor activities offer a serene and calming environment, helping to reduce stress and anxiety. The soothing sounds of birds chirping or the rustling of leaves can have a therapeutic effect on the mind.

Mood Enhancement

The natural beauty and green surroundings found in nature have been linked to improved mood and increased happiness. Spending time outdoors can uplift spirits, alleviate mood swings, and combat symptoms of postpartum depression.

Relaxation and Mindfulness

Nature provides an ideal backdrop for practising mindfulness and relaxation techniques. Engaging with the sights, sounds, and sensations of the outdoors promotes a sense of presence and aids in the management of stress.

Bonding and Connection

Quality Time: Nature and outdoor activities provide an opportunity for pregnant women and new mothers to spend quality time with their partners, family members, or friends. Engaging in activities like hiking, picnics, or nature walks fosters bonding and creates cherished memories.

Bonding with your baby: Introducing the wonders of the natural world to children from an early age can instil a lifelong love and appreciation for the environment. Exploring parks, gardens, or beaches with your little one can be a delightful experience and a good way to bond for both mother and child.



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