10 Healthy Ways to Reduce Pregnancy Stress & Restore Calm
Pregnancy can be a stressful event even for the most laid-back people. Between the hormones, body changes, variables you can’t control, and everything you need to prep and plan for, it can become overwhelming. Fortunately, run-of-the-mill everyday stress won’t harm your infant. Too much intense, long-term stress, however, can definitely have an effect on your pregnancy and your baby by increasing your risk for certain complications. Let’s take a look at what you need to know about your anxiety and how stress can be reduced during pregnancy.
What Causes Stress During Pregnancy?
People may feel stress during pregnancy for any number of reasons. Some of the most common causes of stress during pregnancy include fear of childbirth, fear of parenting, fear of miscarriage, physical discomfort, financial stress, and preparing for maternity leave from work. In fact, it’s not unusual to feel stressed about feeling stressed!
Stress is extremely common during pregnancy, and not all of it is bad. It can help you push through tough times, and keep you alert so that you’re motivated to take the best possible care of yourself and your little one. Worrying about a project at work or getting into an occasional disagreement with your partner aren’t generally situations that are cause for concern. If you’re able to work past the stress and not stay stuck in it, you’re fine.
Chronic stress, on the other hand, can increase your chance of complications. When your body is in a consistent state of “fight or flight,” your surging stress hormones can affect the baby’s body as well. This may include events like:
- persistent challenges, like health problems, abuse, or financial issues
- experiencing bigotry, a daily challenge for someone in a marginalized group
- major life changes, like death or loss of income
- experiencing a natural disaster or traumatic event and possible subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- phobic-level (larger than average) stress about the pregnancy
As you make room for baby, make room for pampering yourself too! Keep your body well hydrated with Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Nourishing Body Oil. Sweet almond and lemon oils soothe and hydrate dry skin. Vitamin E keeps skin supple and moist. This 100% natural origin body oil has a lightweight feel and reconditions skin without leaving a greasy residue. Pour in the tub for a luxurious bath or keep it in your bedside drawer for rich moisture when you need it.
What Complications Can Arise From Stress During Pregnancy?
Stress can cause insomnia, give you a headache, or make you feel like you want to eat everything in the refrigerator. It can impact your developing little one too. Severe, chronic, and long-term stress can, in some people, increase the risk of several complications:
- Miscarriage. A 2017 review of research connected prenatal stress to a heightened risk of miscarriage. Scientists found that women who experienced major negative life events or psychological stress exposure were twice as likely to have early miscarriages.
- Developmental delays. A 2012 study indicates that children may be more likely to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) after prenatal stress. A 2019 study revealed a possible connection to developing depression as a teenager.
- Preterm birth or having a baby with a low birth weight. Both face more potential complications than full-term average-weight infants
How Can I Reduce Stress During Pregnancy?
Fortunately, there are ways to alleviate your anxiety and restore calm to your (and your baby’s) body.
1. Ask for help
This is hard for some people, but asking for assistance is 100% acceptable. Odds are, your partner, family members, colleagues, friends, and neighbors would be happy to help but don’t know what you need. If they offer, take them up on it! Get help stocking up on some freezer meals, creating a baby registry, or shopping for your new baby.
2. Open up to a confidante
It’s important and necessary to have a safe space where you feel like you can vent. Whether it’s with your partner, your doctor, your best friend, or an online mom’s group, you need to have someone you can trust who can listen and allow you to feel understood.
3. Rest and exercise
Taking care of your physical health is one of the most important ways to reduce stress during pregnancy. Lie down when you’re tired, take naps, and head to bed early. Stay well hydrated and try to eat healthy, balanced meals. Make sure you’re also getting plenty of low-impact exercise, like walking or swimming.
4. Educate yourself and plan for what you can
Fear of the unknown can trigger a lot of stress in any situation. Talk to your healthcare provider about your concerns. This can often help allay any worries or fears you may be experiencing. Take any birthing, breastfeeding, or infant care classes available through your hospital. Tour your hospital’s labor and delivery floor to get a better idea of what to expect and what’s available. Read books on childbirth baby care. As you research, keep in mind, it’s also important to know when to step back from social media or your computer in general. Spiraling down into rabbit holes of information (or misinformation) doesn’t help anybody.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting, 5th Edition Paperback by Heidi Murkoff is a must-have resource for expectant parents. Filled with practical advice, realistic insight, easy-to-use tips, and lots of reassurance, this book explains each step of your pregnancy explained and demystifies your pregnant body, head (what to do about those headaches) to feet (why they’re so swollen), back (how to stop it from aching) to front (why you can’t tell a baby by mom’s bump).
5. Practice mindfulness
Take time to slow your thoughts when your mind is racing. For many people, this is easier said than done, but there are a number of practices that can help. Try listening to a guided meditation or muscle relaxation. Journal your thoughts each day. Practice deep breathing or attend a prenatal yoga class.
6. Let your feelings flow
There may be no better method for how to reduce stress during pregnancy than laughter…or crying! Watch a funny movie or stand-up comedy. Read a favorite book that moves you to tears. Both are cathartic and help move the stress out of your body.
7. Treat yourself
Indulge in a massage. Ask your partner to rub your shoulders or your feet. Soak in a nice warm (not hot) tub. Pampering your body is a quick way to relieve some of the discomforts of pregnancy and bring down your stress level.
8. Listen to some tunes
Research has shown that listening to just half an hour of music can reduce cortisol, your system’s primary stress hormone. Listen on your way to and from work or jam out at home.
9. Take it all in stride
It’s ok to slow down when you’re pregnant. You’re growing another human being, a process that’s both physically and mentally exhausting. See if your partner or a co-worker can take one or things off your to-do list.
10. Monitor your stress levels
If you start feeling overwhelmed, talk to your healthcare provider as soon as possible. If they know what you’re experiencing, they can assist you with treatments or therapy for anxiety and depression.
The Bottom Line
It’s normal to feel stressed during pregnancy. In most instances, those regular daily stressors won’t affect the health of you or your baby. However, extreme chronic stress can be damaging and can complicate childbirth and your baby’s development. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to reduce stress during pregnancy. Invest a little time in caring for yourself and doing what your can to bring yourself relief. Talk to your doctor if you’re having difficulty managing. Understanding your options can help your pregnancy go more smoothly.
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