How To Handle Stress During Pregnancy
Apr 19, 2020 | Pregnancy
When pregnant, it is important to remember that stress does not only affect you, but your baby. There are unlimited circumstances that can lead to stress. Here are tips on how to help you properly handle them to keep you and your baby safe.
While some stress is a normal occurrence for any one person, it is best to be avoided, especially when pregnant. When youre stressed, your body releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that prepare the body for the physical exert of fight or flight. Common circumstance among pregnant women such as physical discomfort, irregular hormone levels, and uncertainty about the future can all lead to stress.
Other Factors that can Cause Stress
- Being a single parent
- Previous negative experiences with motherhood such as miscarriages
- Having an unplanned pregnancy
- Financial difficulties
Unfortunately, when stress levels become difficult to lower, the more likely it is for there to be a decline in your health, developmental problems for your baby such as ADHD or impaired cognitive development. Chronic stress can lead to experiencing: headaches, fast breathing and a racing pulse, anger, eating problems and more. While some doctors may suggest medications like anxiety inhibitors to treat stress, there are other options.
Healthy Eating: Keeping yourself and your baby healthy with a well-balanced diet can help release toxins from the body.
You Have A Million Things To Do Before Baby Comes
Meditation may help you to sort through the things that really must be done before baby, and what can wait, says Marci Howard-May, Spa Services Manager at Red Mountain Resort. By letting go of overwhelming thoughts you can focus on one item on your list at a time instead of thinking of all of them. Yes, the crib, car seat and stroller are important before junior arrives, but the entire nursery doesn’t need to be decorated to perfection right now.
Do a brief calming meditation, then pick up a pencil and write a list of what you feel are the most important tasks you need to accomplish, suggests Trapani. Remain relaxed, and create a clear strategy on how to complete the task that will give you the biggest sense of relief when completed.
“By taking those few minutes to breathe, focus and relax, you can reduce that sensation of being overwhelmed and make yourself be more productive,” says Howard-May.
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There Are Many Ways That Mindfulness Can Be Practiced In Our Life Such As:
- Noticing someone looking at their watch while youre talking as if to indicate that theyre running late for something, and allowing them to leave the conversation
- Being mindful about what you put into you body and only including meat that has been handled with care and preferably free-range
- Listening to someone and not interrupting them
- Giving the driver in front of you space while driving
- Allowing someone to go in front of you at the grocery store when you observe they are purchasing less than you.
Mindfulness is not something that you need to achieve, its simply a practice that you continually assess and implement. And ideally, its done in the present moment.
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What Feelings Can Happen
Mood swings are normal during pregnancy. But if you feel nervous or down all the time, it could be a sign of something deeper going on. Stress over being pregnant, changes in your body during the pregnancy, and everyday worries can take a toll.
Some pregnant women may have depression or anxiety:
- Depression is sadness or feeling down or irritable for weeks or months at a time. Some women may have depression before getting pregnant. But it also can start during pregnancy for a number of reasons for example, if a woman isn’t happy about being pregnant or is dealing with a lot of stress at work or at home.
- Anxiety is a feeling of worry or fear over things that might happen. If you worry a lot anyway, many things can stress you out during pregnancy. You might worry that you won’t be a good mother or that you can’t afford to raise a baby.
Pregnant women may have other mental health issues, such as:
- bipolar disorder
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
- eating disorders
It’s important to treat mental health concerns during pregnancy. Mothers who are depressed, anxious, or have another issue might not get the medical care they need. They might not take care of themselves, or they may use drugs and alcohol during the pregnancy. All of these things can harm a growing baby.
If you have a mental health issue, talk with your doctor so you can get the help you need during and after your pregnancy.
Give Yourself A Break
This may be a perfect time to step back from many of the things you have said yes to in the past. For the future, you have a new focus in life, and it is time for someone else to take a turn at the above-and-beyond things you may have been doing for your family, job, and community. This is a time to relax so that you can be the parent you strive to be.
Dont worry about spotlessly cleaning your house or filling up your social schedule. You can politely say no to strenuous volunteering, overtime, or extra shifts. You can ask for help and accept it when it is offered! Giving back right now is giving forward, taking the best care of yourself, and letting go of any guilt you feel about spending time on personal wellness. Give yourself permission to relax.
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Therapy For Pregnancy Stress
Therapy can be a beneficial treatment option for women dealing with pregnancy stress. Therapy involves meeting with a psychologist, social worker, counselor, or therapist either individually or in a group. It provides you with an opportunity to talk about how you are feeling and learn healthier ways to cope with your emotions.
Cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy are two types of therapy that are effective for treating depression during pregnancy.14 CBT helps you identify when you are having unhealthy or irrational thoughts and teaches you how to change them. IPT focuses on helping you improve your relationships, which in turn helps you improve your emotional state. Some therapists may also utilize other approaches, like psychodynamic or solution-focused therapy, to help pregnant women better cope with stress.
Tips To Reduce Stress During Pregnancy
If you are experiencing pregnancy stress, do not fret as it is a very common problem among pregnant women. Pregnancy, as joyous and exciting as it is, can be very overwhelming, especially for first-time mothers. With hormonal changes, mood swings, nausea, and back pain, it is completely normal to feel anxious and stressed out. Even though mental health plays a huge factor in ensuring a healthy pregnancy, it is often turned a blind eye upon. In this blog, let us understand the various causes of stress, effects of stress on pregnancy, and how to reduce stress during pregnancy.
Causes of pregnancy stress:
Pregnant women can experience stress for several reasons. According to a study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, these stressors can be broadly divided into three categories:
It must be noted that a pregnant woman can experience one or more of the above stressors. The intensity of the feeling and cause of stress/anxiety might vary from person to person.
Effects of stress during pregnancy on infant and mother:
Sudden bouts of stress are not likely to harm your baby. However, if youre experiencing chronic untreated stress, then there could be some negative effects on the fetus. Here are some complications that may arise if the cause of stress is left unattended:
How to reduce stress during pregnancy?There are many simple methods to reduce stress during pregnancy. Here are a few ways to combat stress.
Read Also: How To Tell If Your Stressed
Coping With Stress During Pregnancy: 6 Ways To Stay Calm
MD, MPH, FAAFP
Stress during pregnancy is common, with around 78% of pregnant women reporting low to moderate stress and 6% reporting high levels of stress.1 Pregnancy stress is a concern because it is linked to certain complications and can have negative effects on the unborn baby. Fortunately, you can take action to reduce your stress during pregnancy, which can help prevent these problems and improve your overall well-being.
Way #: Practice 10 Minutes Of Silence
Sitting in 10 minutes of silence is a great way to calm down your nervous system every day and avoid going into stress and anxiety.
I started this practice over a year ago, and I just love its simplicity. There are now hundreds of my clients doing it, too.
All you need is 10 minutes per day of dedicated silence, where you sit and close your eyes. Set the timer. Then continue to do this daily and notice the shift.
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Stay Active Every Day
Exercise releases endorphins that will lift your mood. You dont have to do aerobics classes or hit the gym. Just try to make staying active part of your everyday life. For example, you could go for a walk or do some office exercises. This can reduce stress and its good for your unborn baby, too. Find out more about exercises you can do when youre pregnant.
Medication For Pregnancy Stress
Mental health medications, like antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and mood stabilizers, may be prescribed for certain women who are struggling to cope with stress, depression, anxiety, or other emotional challenges during pregnancy.15 Research on taking these medications while pregnant is limited.
Certain medications do carry risks to the unborn fetus, so these medications are generally avoided. If your doctor feels that you may benefit from medication, they will consider the pros and cons and help you decide whether this is the right option for you. Be sure to consult with a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner that specializes in working with perinatal mental health.
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How Can You Reduce Stress During Pregnancy
Here are some ways to help you reduce stress:
- Know that the discomforts of pregnancy are only temporary. Ask your provider about how to handle these discomforts.
- Stay healthy and fit. Eat healthy foods, get plenty of sleep and exercise . Exercise can help reduce stress and also helps prevent common pregnancy discomforts.
- Cut back on activities you dont need to do. For example, ask your partner to help with chores around the house.
- Try relaxation activities, like prenatal yoga or meditation. They can help you manage stress and prepare for labor and birth.
- Take a childbirth education class so you know what to expect during pregnancy and when your baby arrives. Practice the breathing and relaxation methods you learn in your class.
- If youre working, plan ahead to help you and your employer get ready for your time away from work. Use any time off you may have to get extra time to relax.
The people around you may help with stress relief too. Here are some ways to reduce stress with the help of others:
How Do You Make An Epson Salt Bath
Add 2 cups of Epsom Salts to your bath water and dissolve. The Epsom salt provides magnesium benefits that are safe for mom and baby, while also relieving itching, reducing stress, and decreasing aches and pains that pregnancy brings.
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Why Its Important To Manage Stress In Pregnancy
Managing stress is good for your health and your babys health during pregnancy and beyond. If you can manage stress, you can reduce your chance of premature birth and your babys chance of childhood health problems like asthma and allergies.
Also, when you manage stress, your pregnancy is likely to be a more positive experience overall.
If you have life stresses under control and stress management strategies in place during pregnancy, you might also be able to cope better with new stresses after birth. These new stresses include lack of sleep and the challenges of looking after a newborn. And for some new mums, they include the after-effects of a difficult birth and other complications.
Unlike some other lifestyle factors that youll be told to avoid during pregnancy for example, smoking and alcohol you cant get rid of all the stress in your life. But you can learn how to recognise and deal with stress. This can help you have a healthier pregnancy and manage life more easily once your baby is born.
Converse About Your Mental Health
Many times during pregnancy, you may have mood swings. The stress related to these mood swings is all in your mind. This happens when you overthink giving birth to a baby and all aspects related to it.
But you can avert such situations by having a healthy conversation with someone else. Conversing about your mental health serves as an outlet for your negative emotions and feelings.
You could converse about your mental health to your partner, friend or even a therapist. Talking to other pregnant mothers can also help you to relate to them.
Another great method is to create a journal where you can pen down your thoughts. Or, you could make a list of the things you are grateful for during pregnancy. No matter what you do, it is very important to let your feelings out.
There may also be other factors that may be affecting your partner. Hence, talking to your partner could be one of the positive things that may improve stress levels.
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Tips For Managing Stress And Pregnancy
Here are some tips for managing stress during pregnancy.
Health and lifestyle
- Do some exercise, like walking. As well as lowering stress, it has overall health benefits.
- Try to rest where you can, and avoid booking in too many activities. Its OK to lie on the couch, take a break and slow things down.
- Do some activities that distract or engage you, like reading, watching your favourite TV show, baking, painting or something else you enjoy.
- Try to take pressure off yourself to be perfect. Accept that youre doing the best you can. Try not to worry if things arent quite the way you want them to be for example, if your house is messy.
- Ask for practical help or say yes when someone offers practical help during pregnancy and after your baby is born.
- Try yoga, meditation, breathing exercises or relaxation. If you cant get to classes, you can look for online videos or use a smartphone app.
Family and friends
- Spend time with people who make you feel good and help you de-stress.
- Ask for and accept help with things youre struggling with. Support from people around you can help you manage stress.
- Consider asking someone to be gatekeeper that is, if you have trouble saying no or slowing down, ask your partner or someone close to you to say no for you.
- Connect with other expectant parents for example, you could use social media to connect with other parents or parents-to-be.
The 8 Best Ways To Relieve Stress During Pregnancy
If worrying about your pregnancy seems to be taking up all of your time, dont worry, youre not alone. All moms-to-be experience stress during pregnancyits normal. But if your stress becomes constant and overwhelming, thats when its time to get some helpnot just for your own health, but for the health of your baby.When youre stressed, your body releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that prepare your body for the physical exertion of fight or flight. Eventually, these hormones dissipate and your body returns to its normal, balanced state. Sometimes though, like when youre stressed about giving birth, your stress levels dont go down. This can lead to a decline in your health and developmental problems for the fetus such as ADHD and even impaired cognitive development. Thats why its so important that you keep chronic stressthe kind thats with you day and nightto a minimum. To help you stay happy, healthy, and stress-free during your pregnancy, weve assembled the eight best ways to relieve stress during pregnancy.
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How Can A Pregnant Woman Reduce Stress
Each pregnant woman needs to identify the personal and work-related sources of stress in her life and develop effective ways to deal with them. Any woman, whether pregnant or not, can cope better with the stresses in her life if she is healthy and fit.
A pregnant woman should eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs and exercise regularly . It is important that a pregnant woman not skip meals because the fetus needs constant nutrition, and long fasts put stress on a womans body. She should eat three meals plus at least two healthy snacks, or five to six small meals a day. Exercise keeps pregnant women fit, helps prevent some common discomforts of pregnancy and relieves stress.
Having a good support network which can include the pregnant womans partner, extended family, friends and others also helps a pregnant woman relieve stress. These individuals may provide information, emotional support or help with tasks around the home. Some studies suggest that having good support actually may reduce the risk of preterm labor and low birthweight, especially for poor, high-risk women or women who are feeling stressed.
Dr. McCubbin has developed a simple relaxation plan that any pregnant woman can use: