It’s no secret that moms-to-be experience major lifestyle, physical and relationship changes during their pregnancies. And when you factor in common concerns like mood swings, morning sickness and worry about the baby’s health, it is understandable that this joyous life event can also come with a side effect of stress. How to treat stress during pregnancy?
In most cases, a little everyday stress will not cause any harm to you or your unborn baby. However, serious or prolonged stress can put you at a higher risk of certain problems, including having a premature birth or a low-birthweight baby.
If you are under such severe stress that you are having trouble eating or sleeping, feel anxious or hopeless all the time, or have other worrisome side effects, you should talk to a healthcare provider.
The good news is that it is possible to cope with and manage normal levels of stress during your pregnancy using natural methods.
Regardless of the cause of your anxiety, we’ve compiled a list of seven ideas to help you relax using safe, natural and effective techniques:
1. Bond With Your Baby to Treat Stress During Pregnancy
Whether you are worried about miscarriage or have concerns about your ability to be a good mom, taking time to bond with your unborn baby can alleviate stress and anxiety.
A fetal heart monitor will also allow you to safely “check in” with your baby from the comfort of your home. Before you can feel your baby’s first kicks, hearing his or her heartbeat is really the only way that you can find out if they are OK.
The Fetal Heart Monitor by 1790 is recommended for use as early as the 14th week of pregnancy, and can sometimes pick up a heartbeat as early as eight weeks.
2. Just say “no.”
When you are pregnant, it is important to let go of unnecessary or less-important commitments and tasks.
Because the physical toll of carrying a baby may render you unable to do as much as usual, now is a great time to stop trying to do it all. Asking for help or saying “no” now will help you establish comfortable limits for yourself that you can rely on after your baby arrives.
Whether you ask your partner or a relative to help with errands and chores, find someone else to make cookies for the bake sale or let someone else take the lead on a big project at work, you will likely feel like a load has been lifted off your already-overburdened mind and body.
When you focus on slowing down, getting the rest you need and performing only the tasks that are necessary or important to you, you will find that your stress levels evaporate—along with your superwoman ideals!
3. To Treat Stress During Pregnancy: Exercise
Gentle exercises such as walking, swimming, yoga, Pilates and stretching can do wonders to reduce your stress levels without getting you overtired.
In addition to giving you an energy boost, 30 minutes of light-to-moderate exercise has been shown to help lower levels of cortisol, the hormone that causes anxiety, in your body. The Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga & Short Forms DVD will help you to get some relaxing, stress-relieving exercise without overdoing it.
And, as an added benefit, light-to-moderate exercise can help you to safely avoid the stress and worry associated with gaining excess weight during your pregnancy.
Although your doctor will track your weight at each prenatal visit, following an appropriate exercise program and monitoring your weight at home using the Balance High Accuracy Bathroom Scale can help you to stay within your weight-gain guidelines.
4. Get Plenty of Sleep
Lack of sleep or irregular sleeping patterns have been shown to have negative effects on everything from your mood to your eating habits to your ability to concentrate.
And, not getting enough sleep has also been proven to increase your stress levels.
When you are pregnant, your body is working overtime, so you need even more sleep than usual to stave off these nasty side effects and keep your stress levels under control.
But even though you need (and possibly crave) more sleep, it can sometimes be hard to get comfortable—especially if you were a former tummy sleeper. For extra support and comfort at night, try the Snoogle Total Body Pillow.
5. Studies Show That Changing Your Diet Can Reduce Stress During Pregnancy
Studies have shown that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (also known as DHA) and tryptophan—combined with drinking plenty of water—can help reduce depression, improve sleep, reduce headaches and boost feelings of overall well-being.
So, be sure to eat safe seafood, nuts, seeds, turkey, chicken, eggs, yogurt and cheese and drink six to eight glasses of fluid each day. To help you get the DHA your baby needs, try Dr. Tobias Omega 3 Fish Oil Triple Strength Caps or Nordic Naturals – Prenatal DHA.
Folic acid supplements for pregnant women have been shown to prevent birth defects, especially when taken early in pregnancy or before conception. The 5-MTHF Folate Supplement by Thorne Research is a great choice to help you add folic acid to your diet.
It may be a challenge to eat healthy during your first trimester if you are experiencing morning sickness, but taking a safe, herbal supplement such as Tummydrops Ginger may help ease your nausea. Also, Pink Stork Pregnancy Bath Flakes can provide morning sickness relief when used in a warm (not hot) bath or foot soak.
Healthy eating will keep excessive weight gain at bay, provide much-needed energy and give you the reassurance that you are doing your best to keep you and your baby healthy.
If you need some healthy, pregnancy-approved recipes to help you get started, check out this guide: “The Whole 9 Months: A Week-By-Week Pregnancy Nutrition Guide with Recipes for a Healthy Start.”
6. Get Ready For Baby’s Arrival
A big sources of stress, especially for first-time moms, is the uncertainty of childbirth. And, an even bigger sources of stress can be caused by feelings of uncertainty about raising your baby, lifestyle changes after the baby arrives and your ability to be a good mom.
Although both of these sources of stress are totally normal, good planning and advance preparation can go a long way toward alleviating your stress and giving you a sense of control.
To calm your worries about childbirth, talk to your doctor about what to expect, schedule a hospital tour or take a childbirth class.
If you are worried about being a new parent, take a parenting class or spend some time hanging out with a friend’s young child. And, always remember that your motherly instincts and your love for your child will guide you to do what is best.
7. Talk it Out.
Talking about your fears and concerns is a great way to relieve stress.
Chances are, you have all sorts of people in your life who are willing to share some of their experiences and provide reassurance to calm your fears. Being honest about your worries will help you get the information you need to feel better.
There are a range of online communities, chat rooms (such as HealthfulChat’s Pregnancy and Fertility Chat Room) and forums for everything from general pregnancy questions (The Bump and BabyCenter communities) to trimester-by-trimester groups to forums dealing with specific concerns, such as Momtastic Baby and Bump forums on pregnancy over age 35, baby names and gestational complications.
For some extra advice or assistance, you might try joining an online support group. Some popular online support groups include Daily Strength and Pregnancy Support Group. Pregnancy & Children also offers information about local support groups and agencies that provide assistance to pregnant women.
For moms-to-be who are plugged in to social media, there are a range of Facebook groups providing pregnancy advice and support, including THM Pregnancy and Nursing Off-Topic Discussion, Parenting & Pregnancy Advice and Lloydminster Pregnancy and Parenting Discussion Group.
Whether you find an online community, share your worries with your partner or raise a concern with your doctor, you will be glad you did.
However, if you feel like you are under unusual stress or have extreme and debilitating worries, ask your provider for a referral to a qualified therapist. A trained therapist can assess your anxiety and give you strategies that will help you stay calm.