Pregnancy is a happy and joyful time for most women, however it can also bring with it a huge amount of anxiety, stress and mood changes and generally a huge mix of emotions that can change from one day to the next. According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynacologists as many as one in five women develop a mental health problem during pregnancy, or do so in the first year after the birth of their baby.

We know for example, that experiencing depression in pregnancy is also the largest risk factor for the development of post natal depression, which directly impacts both the the baby and mother post birth. Depression in pregnancy has also been associated with lower birth rates too. So  It’s fair to say then that the range of negative emotions and feelings that can be experienced during pregnancy effect both mum and the baby, so finding effective and safe ways to reduce and improve these emotions, is paramount for a healthy, happy pregnancy and a healthy happy baby.

This is where nature can be an excellent and very safe solution with some amazing benefits for both mum and baby! Exposure and submersion in green spaces (so in other words, natural surroundings E.g., trees, fields, grass), has consistently shown to reduce depressive symptoms and improve general mood in expectant mums.

Nature immersion has also been shown to uplift mood and reduce stress levels. In fact being within nature and green spaces has been shown to reduce cortisol levels in the body, which is hugely important at any time, but especially important during pregnancy and here is why. Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone and the more stressed and anxious you are the more cortisol circulates in the body. High cortisol levels are associated with increased risk of miscarriage, increased risk of preeclampsia (pregnancy related high blood pressure), premature birth and delays in childhood development post birth. Therefore maintaining low cortisol levels throughout pregnancy is really important for the health of both mum and baby.

High anxiety levels and thus high cortisol levels during pregnancy, are also associated with lower birth weights and we know low birth weights can have a detrimental effect on a child’s health even into adulthood.

With time spent in nature shown to promote feelings of calmness and relaxation, which in turn means lower cortisol levels, pregnancy is the perfect time to reap the health benefits of nature immersion, and you get two for the price of one as it benefits both mum and baby to be.  So if you are pregnant, or soon will be, ensure you go for a slow walk through a forest, do some forest bathing, sit outside and eat lunch, listen to birdsong in the garden and incorporate these types of nature tasks into your daily routine during pregnancy, because the multiple psychological and physiological health benefits of it are huge. Not only that, but it’s entirely safe and free too.



The association between green space and depressive symptoms in pregnant women: moderating roles of socioeconomic status and physical activity, 2016.J Epidemiol Community Health,

Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing, 2019. Scientific Reports,

Surrounding greenness and pregnancy outcomes in four Spanish birth cohorts, 2012. Environ Health Persp

Maternal Mental Health – Women’s Voices, 2017. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist