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Discomfort during pregnancy is not always about physical symptoms. Emotional stress during pregnancy can be just as disruptive:
The following issues can cause tremendous anxiety and stress during pregnancy :
- “Stories” you will hear from family and friends based on their personal experiences
- Relationship issues which can surface during pregnancy (domestic abuse is more common during pregnancy)
- Social media pressures about childbirth and parenting (natural childbirth, breastfeeding etc.)
- Unrealistic expectations we can often put on ourselves. (Pregnancy is a time to go easy on yourself.)
- Unanticipated prenatal care complications ( I did 16 weeks on bedrest with my son and then had an emergency c-section, my stress level was through the roof!)
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Here are 7 strategies you can try to ease your stress during pregnancy:
1. Be prepared
Though this suggestion may seem fundamental and quite obvious to most, it is perhaps the most important piece of advice to follow if you want to truly relieve the stress surrounding your labor, delivery and postpartum experience.
Think of why Lamaze and various breathing techniques are so effective when alleviating the apprehension associated with labor.
Whether you choose to receive pain medication or not during labor, the process of educating yourself thoroughly about the labor and delivery process and mindfully preparing yourself is invaluable when it comes to the childbirth experience.
Being in control of your emotions and expectations is paramount and will help you deal with the emotional and physical challenges associated with childbirth.
This approach applies to the many challenges we face during our lifetime. Perhaps the simplest example is taking a test for school, work, etc.
Do you feel more stressed if you are not prepared? Of course and that is entirely normal.
It is a fact, that expectant moms require less medication (if any) when they are prepared for the onset of labor through childbirth education.
Educate, educate, educate yourself about information relating to anything that stresses you about pregnancy.
Stick to information that has been tried and tested and is based on science.
Not opinions resulting from one individual’s personal experience. The information you want to consider is not based on a case-controlled study of “one”.
You are not a statistic. Although the comment “one in a hundred ” is often spoken of lightly, if you are that “one” wouldn’t it matter?
It is often said that “Knowledge is Power”! Knowledge can also be the best medicine when preparing for any life-changing experience for the first time!
2. Get plenty of rest
More sleep helps reduce stress. Getting enough sleep directly affects your physiology and as a result your psychological well-being.
“Sleep-struggles” during pregnancy is a common complaint. Take naps if you can.
Napping can help you feel more rested which can decrease your feelings of stress and irritability.
Say “No” more often to social commitments. It is OK. Fatigue is often a culprit in increased feelings of stress during pregnancy.
Here are some steps to take during your waking hours to help prepare for a good night’s sleep:
- Spend time outside to get direct exposure to sunlight early in the morning.
- Avoid electronic screens (cell phones, TV) 1-2 hours before bedtime.
- Avoid eating a large meal right before bed.
- Listen to soft music before you go to bed.
- The bed should be for sleeping and sex.
- Use a pregnancy pillow for optimal comfort and to maintain proper sleeping posture.
- If you drink caffeinated beverages, avoid them afternoon each day.
- Try to get to sleep at the same time each night.
3. Get daily exercise
Check with your prenatal care provider to make sure it is safe to exercise based on your medical history and any pregnancy-related conditions might be experiencing.
If this frustrates you, you might only need to remind yourself of the fact that prolonged bed rest is required for many women during pregnancy. There is no need, nor is it a good idea to push your limits or exercise tolerance when pregnant.
This being said, exercise is encouraged during pregnancy.
Stretching and prenatal yoga can help prepare your pelvis for childbirth. Exercise also releases mood-elevating endorphins which can help you sleep better.
Some exercises for moms-to-be include:
- Walking – Helps keep you fit, is safe and doesn’t require any expensive equipment
- Swimming – Swimming is an excellent form of exercise for pregnant women. It can help reduce back pain, improve your cardiovascular fitness and is easy on your joints that are loosening in preparation for childbirth.
- Prenatal Yoga– Yoga helps you stay flexible and increases strength while being low-impact. Prenatal yoga can help you learn proper breathing and relaxation skills which may be beneficial to you during labor. (As noted above, be sure to clear such activity with your provider.)
4. Practice relaxation techniques
This can help you better cope with everyday stress and stress during pregnancy.
Practicing relaxation techniques can help to improve your mood and concentration.
Examples of relaxation techniques include deep breathing, meditation, and guided imagery:
- Deep breathing: 4-7-8 is a simple relaxation breathing technique to try. Inhale through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, exhale through your mouth to a count of eight.
- Meditation: Meditation is for you and your baby! One technique to try is mantra-based meditation. An example of mantra-based meditation is to sit in a position you find most comfortable and repeat to yourself “One day, One Moment at a Time”, as you breathe slowly and allow the tension to leave your body.
- Guided Imagery: Let’s you go to a happy place, whenever you choose to do so. There is an excellent guided-imagery example for you to try at Guided visualization during pregnancy – by Fragrant Heart
5. Take a warm bath
Bathing is fine during pregnancy as long as the water temperature is not too hot, you want it to be warm, not hot.
There is nothing quite like a warm bath at the end of a stressful day. To help make your bath more relaxing and more indulgent, consider adding the following perks to your bath-time routine:
- Scented candles
- Dim lights
- Your favorite soft-music playlist on Spotify
6. Limit your consumption of pregnancy-related information
Information comes at us 24/7 these days and especially during pregnancy, as everyone has an opinion or personal experience to share with you.
Furthermore, there are countless resources about pregnancy at your fingertips.
This can be too much information (TMI) and lead to information overload, increasing your anxiety and stress during pregnancy.
7. Read a “Fluffy” Novel or watch a funny movie
Choose a book or move that you know you’ll enjoy. Reading can help you relax your body, decrease your heart rate and elevate your mood.
The goal here is to read or watch for pleasure. A couple of movies that are sure to lift your spirits include:
- 500 Days of Summer (2009) Romantic comedy, a sweet boy-meets-girl love story that will leave feeling uplifted and relaxed.
- Finding Dory (2016) Follows along closely to Finding Nemo, Dory sets out to find her birth parents. It’s a feel-good movie that will leave you smiling.
- Leap Year (2010) Romantic comedy set in Ireland, a super sweet feel-good movie, you’ll want to watch over and over again!
Start a pregnancy journal! It is the one thing looking back I wish I had done.
A pregnancy journal can help you remember issues you want to talk to your Doctor or Midwife about, document milestones in your pregnancy, and help you take your mind off of stressful events for a time.
We hope this information will help alleviate your stress during pregnancy.
Other articles you might find helpful:
- How To Prevent Swelling During Pregnancy
- The Best Best Pregnancy Pillows To Help You Sleep
- 9 Steps To Better Sleep During Pregnancy