Pregnancy is one of the happiest times in a woman’s life. Expectant mothers are pampered, cherished and fussed over by family members; they get to spend time setting up the nursery, shopping and indulging in treats without feeling guilty about piling on the pounds. But it is also a time when a woman goes through a lot of physical and emotional changes that can be cause for a lot of stress. Worries about a painful labor, health of the unborn child, and the ability to be a good mother can add to the woes. Stress during pregnancy is something that is hard to fight.
Stress During Pregnancy
Stress during pregnancy is considered to be one of the factors that result in preterm births (also known as premature birth) when a baby is born at less than 37 weeks gestational age. It is also one of the most common reasons for death of infants worldwide. Preterm babies are also at greater risk of cerebral palsy and developmental problems. Stress during pregnancy can even increase the risk of infection. That’s why it is extremely important for expectant mothers to learn to how to manage stress during pregnancy.
Although friends and family can help in de-stressing, there’s only one person who can help you the most: yourself. Here are some of the ways in which you can deal with anxiety during pregnancy and have a healthy and joyous experience.
If you have issues with your body image before you became pregnant, chances are you’re going to be stressing yourself out when your body expands. Stop feeling that you are out of shape, bloated and ugly. Remember that every pound you gain is going to be benefitting your baby. You can boost your self-esteem by doing simple physical exercises as directed by your doctor and appreciate parts of your body that would not look as good when you aren’t pregnant. Tell yourself that this is just a temporary phase and you won’t always look the same! Love yourself and your baby will feel that love as well.
Accept that you need to make adjustments:
Being pregnant doesn’t mean you have to quit your job, give up your social life and just stay indoors and wait until the baby comes. You do need to make adjustments such as on days when you’re feeling cranky or sick or plain tired but you can still continue to do everyday things you love. Just make the changes gradually, at your own comfort. Remember that pregnancy is a fleeting event and before you know it, you’ll be able to get back to your old life, if that’s what you wanted. Stop focusing your attention on what you are giving up and live the moment.
Eat and Sleep Well:
Eat healthy meals especially ones rich in omega fatty acids as it is known to have a positive impact on your mood. Snack regularly on nuts, seeds, cheese and lean protein and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and headaches. Avoid stress during pregnancy inducing foods like caffeine, alcohol and even chocolates. Stress in pregnancy can lead to insomnia, so ensure that you have a warm relaxing bath, mediate or get your partner to give you a good massage so that you can relax and get some good sleep.
Get a pregnancy buddy:
Find a friend or buddy who is a recent mother or someone with whom you can share your experiences. Sharing your experiences will help alleviate pregnancy anxiety as you know that other women have also experienced the same thing and have overcome them. Avoid sharing pregnancy horror stories as it is bound to crop up during discussions. You most likely won’t go through a 36 hour painful labor that happened to someone’s sister-in-law.
Just because your body has lost its shape doesn’t mean that you have to give up looking good. Wear clothes that fit, yet make you comfortable. You can still wear tight fitting pants (maternity lines do offer comfy ones nowadays), wear bright colorful clothes that give off a happier feel and even try a facial if you feel like it. Now that you’re all decked up, you can also give yourself a special day out!
Exercising during pregnancy is very important as it gives expecting mothers a better body image, lessens back pain, and reduces stress during pregnancy. Doing yoga, stretching exercises and pelvic pushups are just some of the recommended ones but make sure you consult your doctor before you do set out on your exercise routine.
Focus on the Now:
Expectant mothers often find themselves getting tips and advice from all and sundry. You’ll find that accepting everything that’s thrown at you can only result in more and more stress and anxiety. Keep a checklist of things you need to do and keep it realistic. If there’s something that can be done later, strike it off the list. Focus on the NOW and do things that are necessary for the moment. Instead of worrying about what needs to be done, appreciate what you’ve accomplished thus far, feel proud and enjoy it! You deserve it!
Remember that only high levels of stress during pregnancy can cause problems. Stay connected with friends and family, think positive and appreciate the unique gift that you possess and you’ll be well on your way to managing stress and having a healthy pregnancy.
Find out more about stress during pregnancy: WebMD