It’s incredibly easy to get stressed out while you’re pregnant. Even on a non-pregnant body, too much stress for too long can have serious negative effects. Pregnancy stress can have adverse effects not only on mom, but potentially baby too. All kinds of things can contribute to a stressful pregnancy, from insufficient support, to bad sleep, to poor nutrition. Stress in and of itself doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but what’s important is how you handle that stress and the measures you take to keep it at a healthy level. Here are a few tips for relaxing while you’re pregnant.
Eating well is an important part of keeping your body healthy, but it can also be helpful mentally. Getting plenty of protein can help provide more energy, and drinking plenty of water will help keep headaches at bay. Plus, when you eat properly, you know your baby is getting the proper nutrients. Make sure to eat a variety of foods full of the nutrients a pregnant body and growing baby need.
Getting regular exercise is another great way to manage stress. Physical activity releases endorphins, which makes you feel happier and more energized. However, don’t expect to be able to perform at your pre-pregnancy activity level -- even a 30 minute walk most days of the week is better than nothing. Walking or swimming promotes circulation and cardiovascular endurance. Other good activities are yoga, aerobics, or even just some deep breathing exercises. In addition to managing stress, regular exercise can make labor and delivery easier for both you and your baby.
It’s hard to admit, especially if you’re an independent, go-getter kind of woman, that being pregnant makes it hard to do all the things you normally do. Whether you have a job, three other children, or a passel of family members who make regular demands of you, it’s important to remember that right now, you have to take of you. And, of course, the baby. The best way to reduce responsibility-related stress is learning to say "no." Set priorities and slow down.
Getting good sleep is so essential to staying sane while you’re pregnant. Sadly, as your pregnancy progresses, it'll become more and more difficult to get comfortable enough to sleep. Additionally, many women start waking up at random times in the night -- perhaps as a way of beginning to adjust to night time feedings, perhaps because their bladder seems to shrink. Try going to bed earlier, or make an afternoon catnap part of your daily routine. If your biggest problem is actually falling asleep, consider adding extra pillows, taking a warm bath, putting a little lavender oil in a diffuser, or spending a few minutes in meditation before bed. These techniques, along with many others, can all help relax your body to make going to sleep a little easier.
If you find yourself completely overwhelmed and nothing seems to remedy your stress, have a conversation with your obstetrician or midwife. In many cases, a lot of the stress is coming from fear or anxiety about the health of the baby or what comes after delivery. These are completely justified concerns, but they shouldn’t take over your world. Your healthcare provider can often help lay many of those concerns to rest. If it’s more than that, talk to your partner, other new or pregnant moms, or find a support group -- sometimes, talking about what’s on your mind can be the best stress reliever in the world.