The Emotions You Transmit to Your Baby

The Emotions You Transmit to Your Baby

Last update: 14 January, 2018

Here we’ll explain how the emotions you transmit during pregnancy can affect your baby.

It is well-known that if a mother does drugs or drinks alcohol while pregnant, this can harm her baby. But her emotions can also have an impact. Depending on whether she is happy, sad, stressed or depressed, a mother’s emotions can be harmful or beneficial for her baby.


Emotions are reactions that show our perceptions of certain individuals, objects, places or events. These psychological conditions affect our body. For example, they alter our attention span, increase certain behaviors, and activate the networks in our brain associated with memory.

This is why our body often reacts instinctively to certain things. Our facial expressions change, our muscles contract, our voice is different, and our endocrine system responds.

Different emotional states are caused by the release of neurotransmitters and hormones, which convert our emotional response into feelings, and finally into language.

Emotions serve to establish our position with respect to our surroundings, and push us towards certain people, objects, actions or ideas while warding us off others.

Our emotions act as a repository of innate and learned influences. They have certain constant characteristics, and others that may vary among individuals, groups and cultures.

the emotions you transmit to your baby

Harmful emotions in pregnancy


A study has shown that, when a women is pregnant, the stress of arguments with her partner , other people fighting in front of her, as well as physical or verbal aggression can cause adverse effects on the mental development of the unborn child, leading to infant stress.

We discovered that if a woman has a partner who emotionally mistreats her during pregnancy, the child’s development is seriously affected. The relationship between parents plays a crucial role in the development of the infant brain.”

Vivette Glover (Academic, Imperial College London)

Nervous Tension

The emotions that you transmit to your baby in pregnancy affect them too. For example, exhausted mothers have exhausted children. Likewise, the development of the fetus can suffer if the mother has a high level of nervous tension.

The conditions in the womb shape the baby’s development, predisposing the baby to medical conditions due to excessive pressure on the mother.”

Pathik Wadhwa (Faculty of Medicine at the University of Kentucky)

Studies show that over-burdened mothers give birth prematurely. They also highlight how “relaxation exercises can help to reduce blood pressure in pregnant women who feel tense, leading to a healthier environment in the womb.”


An anxious mother can influence her child’s IQ. This can lead to mental illness, hyperactivity and attention deficit syndrome.

Negative emotions in pregnancy make the mother’s body produce a hormone called CRH. The pituitary gland secretes another hormone, known as ACTH, which tells the adrenal glands to release cortisol, putting her body on high alert.

Cortisol is toxic to the fetus, and when levels are very high, it can pass through the protective barrier of the placenta to the baby. Cortisol tells the baby that it is in danger and must respond.

This is why some babies tend to cry more, are more prone to stress and have high levels of anxiety. Anxiety in the mother also alters her blood flow, sending less blood to the baby and putting its intellectual development at risk.

effects of your emotions on your baby

Positive Emotions

Positive emotions in pregnancy give your baby lasting protection. The more happiness and harmony that is present in your home, the happier and more welcome your baby will feel.

The people around you can inspire hope, trust, faith and security, stimulating factors that are good for your baby’s emotional and mental health.

With this in mind, one very important thing is to smile. That’s right, a smile has huge importance. It influences the giver as well as the receiver.

A kind smile may even mitigate anxiety, letting off steam like the valve on a pressure cooker. If we are tense or frustrated, smiling will help us to reduce this tension and overcome our frustration.

The emotions that you pass on to your baby can be harmful to them, but they can also influence them in a positive way – and that’s something that every member of the family can help with.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.