Pregnancy, to put it lightly, is a great time of change in any woman’s life. Whether it’s your first child or your fourth, the changes your body is going through and the impact of this pending little person in your life coupled with the everyday responsibilities you’re already grappling with can make for a very stressful time. You likely already know how stress has physically or emotionally impacted you at previous times in your life – whether cramming for exams, dealing with an unpleasant work situation, or planning a wedding. The question becomes, can your developing fetus handle the weight of your pregnancy stress?
Good Stress, Bad Stress
If you’ve ever gone through a rough patch in a relationship or been in a financial tight spot, you’re already aware that the dread of dealing with a difficult part of your life can impact everything from how you’re sleeping and eating to more serious health issues like depression or hypertension. What many people are surprised by is the fact typically positive occurrences in our lives – like organizing a big event or getting together with family members around the holidays – can also cause anxiety and other stressful symptoms.
Pregnancy can bring on stress from both the positive and negative. On the one hand, you’re absolutely thrilled to have a child – but you may be worried about becoming a parent, going through labor, or family expectations. On the other hand, you’ve also got the downsides of pregnancy to grapple with; diminishing intimacy with your partner, extreme physical side effects, and potential issues with your employer. When you add all of these potential sources of pregnancy-related pressures to every day challenges with work, relationships, and family, it can equal one very unhealthy situation – for you and your unborn child.
Cortisol is the hormone your body releases when it’s feeling overstressed. If you’re releasing too much of it during pregnancy, it can cause serious pregnancy problems and complications for both you and your baby. Stress has been linked to pre-term delivery, miscarriages, and birth defects. It also increases your risk for preeclampsia, a serious disorder that affects 5% of women by restricting blood vessels, resulting in high blood pressure and a decreased blood flow to major organs in your body. If too little blood is flowing to your uterus, your baby’s health will also suffer both inside and outside the womb.
Although pregnancy stress can come from sources of joy and pain alike, no stress is good stress. That being said, it’s also pretty inescapable. The trick is to find ways to relieve pressures in your life, without causing more issues down the road. For example, canceling all of your social engagements to indulge in some ‘me time’ for the next six months likely won’t net you too much happiness once you’re ready to socialize again. Finding a balance between what’s expected of you and what you need to do for yourself is critical to your pregnancy health.
Here are three options to consider to help minimize stress in your life:
Meditation & Yoga
Many people find that meditation and yoga are great ways to clear their mind and simply get in touch with their body – which is particularly valuable when pregnant as your body goes through radical changes week-by-week. If you’re taking yoga, ensure it’s a prenatal class so you aren’t overtaxing your body. Although these are fantastic ways to unwind, they also take time. Rushing through a meditation session or yoga class won’t net you the soothing mental benefits of these activities. Before you plan to take a weekly yoga class or set aside a daily meditation hour, keep in mind that life (and your pregnancy) may get in the way and consider additional stress outlets.
Indulging in a prenatal massage slays two problems at once: relieving you of both physical pain and emotional stress. Spending a day at the spa can be a great way to give back to yourself without alienating others. Before you go for a massage, make sure the therapist you’re working with is experienced in providing prenatal massages and is using oils that are suitable for pregnancy; your skin absorbs whatever is put onto it, and some ingredients can be harmful for babies. If you’re planning to make spas part of your relaxation routine, be sure to budget accordingly. With a new arrival on the way, now is the time to plan your spending carefully.
Use Daily Affirmations
Although stress is in theory caused by outside sources, it’s ultimately your body and mind that chooses how to respond to it. The good news is, you’re also in control of releasing anxieties of your own accord, through the power of positive thinking. A completely free way of managing pressure that doesn’t chew up a lot of free time is practicing daily affirmations. Start each day (or week) by writing or finding a positive affirmation and keeping it somewhere handy. Whenever stress starts to creep up on, simply repeating the affirmation and focusing on its meaning can help you get through challenges big and small.
Now that you know how critical it is to remain a zen mom-to-be, here are some ideas to get youstarted on the path to inner bliss:
Focus on what’s stressing you out the most in your life today, and try and anticipate what you may be dealing with a week, month, or three months from now. Look at each item on your list and jot down a couple of ideas for how you can minimize their impact on your mental health.
Using your list as a guide, sit down with the people in your life that may influence your anxiety levels and have an open conversation about your need to lower your stress. See if you can come to compromises on certain fronts. For example, perhaps your employer can reduce your responsibilities on major projects with short timelines, or your spouse can take over meal prep duties to give you a bit of extra space after a long work day.
Investigate activities and affirmations to help minimize your stress levels throughout your pregnancy. Can you buy a casual pass to visit a local yoga studio instead of committing to a class (and another item on your calendar)? Is there a particularly inspiring book you can draw affirmations from? Do you have a friend with a home massage practice to cut back on costs? Look for ways to make relaxation a part of your pregnancy, without negative impacts.
Want to learn more about how positive affirmations can give you and your baby a happy, healthy glow inside and out?
Hormonal changes and the development of the baby cause a variety of undesired symptoms.
Morning sickness during the first trimester is one of the symptoms most moms-to-be could do without.
No fear though – there are many ways to ease the bouts of morning sickness and make your first trimester more enjoyable.
In this video you will learn how to combat morning sickness by eating well balanced meals; learn about breathing exercises, and gain insight on tips that have proven to help make morning sickness manageable.
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Being pregnant is one of the most exciting times in any woman’s life, but it’s not without its side effects. The first three months of pregnancy are a roller coaster ride for your body, which can lead to major food aversions and nausea – plus the dreaded morning sickness that affects up 75% of women. But eating healthy is one of the most important aspects of your pregnancy, for both you and your unborn child.