Stress in Pregnancy
With studies showing that 85% of adults in the UK regularly experience stress, for most of us it’s not exactly an unfamiliar feeling. Familiarity however, doesn’t make it any less unpleasant. Stress in pregnancy can be particularly, well…stressful. With an influx of hormones, a wealth of unknowns and a million questions racing through your head , it’s no wonder that this 40 weeks can seem like some of your most stressful yet.
If stress in pregnancy alone wasn’t enough, this stress can cause you to worry even more, with questions like “can stress cause miscarriage?” some of the most commonly searched online. It’s horrible to think of Mama’s caught in this vicious cycle of concern, so in this excerpt from Mama You Got This, an honest guide to pregnancy, Melissa Schweiger Kleinman offers her advice on 5 ways to stop stress in pregnancy.
What! You mean the thought of bringing a new life into this world is causing you stress? This is no small feat you’ve signed up for and it’s totally fine to feel a little overwhelmed by the whole thing. Becoming a mama is amazingly life changing, but change has an evil twin called stress. No matter how many friends or relatives you know that have gone through it, there’s no real preparation for pregnancy when it’s your own.
Effects of Stress in Pregnancy
Firstly the barrage of tests you undergo during every doctor’s visit is enough to put you on edge. I felt similar to a pin cushion during pregnancy, getting stuck with needles on an ongoing basis. While feeling stressed out during pregnancy is normal, too much of it is not good for you or your baby. Research shows that some forms of stress can contribute to lower birth weight and pre-term birth. While you’re likely going to have a healthy baby, it does pay to learn how to manage your stress. Instead of feeling guilty, which will only stress you out further, find ways to alleviate it. Here are some proven stress-reducers to try during pregnancy:
• Talking to other mama friends is a great way to relieve stress.
If you don’t have anyone in your circle who’s pregnant or recently had a baby, there are loads of mama-to-be groups in your area—there are even apps out there that help local mamas find each other.
• Exercise is another great stress-reducer.
Any pregnancy-friendly exercise can help. Even just 15 minutes of yoga stretches or an easy stroll outside can help you take some moments to unwind. Better yet, find an area with lots of trees. The Japanese practice something called “forest bathing” as a viable form of stress management. They spend time in the woods to lower levels of adrenaline, cortisol and other stress hormones.
• Just breathe! Deep breathing techniques can help to calm you.
Sit with a straight back, breathe in through your nose and hold for a few seconds. Exhale by pushing out as much air as you can though your mouth while contracting your abdominal muscles. Or try holding your right thumb over your right nostril, fully plugging it. Slowly inhale through your left nostril. When your lungs are full, pause for a few seconds then close off the left nostril with your pinky and breathe out through the right nostril. Next breathe in through your right nostril, pause, close it off with your thumb, and breathe out through your left nostril. Continue for about four rounds.
• Massage is one of the most luxurious ways to de-stress.
Granted regular massage can get pricey, but pampering yourself is encouraged during pregnancy. Find a prenatal massage therapist and relax while their hands do the work.
• Focus on only one item on your to-do list at a time.
There are a zillion things you want to get done before the baby arrives, but the truth is that most of them can probably wait. Edit your to-do list down to what actually needs to happen pre-baby and move the other items to a ‘deal with it later’.
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