Plan to kick up your feet for the last bit of your pregnancyto relax while you still can?

If you are fortunate enough to have flexibilityin your work, or will be starting your new role as a stay-at-home mom a littleearly, we congratulate you! Take that rest while you can!

Before you decide to turn your life into acompletely stress-free zone for the last portion of your pregnancy, though, youmay want to listen to these fascinating new findings onyour newborn's motor and social development.

It turns out that some stress during pregnancy is related to better motor development by the time baby turns one year.

When you get workedup, mama, your body releases the stress hormone, cortisol. Althoughchronic stress can have negative effects on your body, it is thought that cortisolmay have a positive effect on baby's motor development during the lasttrimester in the womb. The saying, “What doesn't kill you only makes youstronger" comes to mind!

Interestingly, maternal stress after baby's birth is detrimentally related to motor development at one year.

Meeting a newborn's needs are hard enough, but when you throw incleaning, work, relational conflict, or other daily stressors, it can be toughto provide a positive, stimulating environment for baby. Moral of the story,mama? Try not to sweat everything. Thedishes will get done, the e-mails will get answered, and your romantic lifewill find its groove again…eventually.

Your priorities right now are to provideyour newborn with love, play, laughter, and (of course) food! Your best chanceof providing this nurturing environment is to de-stress whenever you have thechance during this hectic time in your life.

Gettingas much sleep as possible and trying to enjoy a relaxing pastime can even helpwith milk production if you are breastfeeding, which can also play a rolein baby's physical andmotor development.

My personal favorite is cross-stitching and watchingreruns on Netflix while baby sleeps, but, hey, every mama has her own littlejoys in life.

As for you daddies, don't think you are off the hook! Sure,you can do your part to de-stress your partner (foot rub, anyone?)…but rememberthat you are an integral part of baby's development, too!

Indeed, research indicates that a father's stress after the arrival of a new baby is negatively related to baby's socio-emotional development at one year.

Whether you are busy with work orstressed about the many new changes that come with fatherhood, an inability toprovide social interaction with your little one can have detrimental effects ontheir social development. If you need another reason to drop everything andplay with your tiny tot, keep in mind how relaxing and enjoyable it can be tohang out with your favorite little person. Just feeeeel the stress melt away.

Just remember, the human body is fully equippedto cope with stress, and there is no time more stressful than the period after bringinghome a newborn. As long as you are not adding to this stress by demanding toomuch of yourself, you and baby will both be just fine! We wish you luck inharnessing your stress to give baby the best chance for healthy motor andsocial development!