Pregnancy can be an exciting time, but it can also be a stressful time. Here are some tips to cope with stress during pregnancy from the first right through to the third trimester.
Remember, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider before trying anything new during pregnancy, to ensure the actions are safe for you and your baby.
Practice relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques can be helpful in reducing stress and promoting rest and sleep during pregnancy. Here are some pregnancy-compatible tips to let go of stress:
Deep breathing: Sit comfortably with your eyes closed and take slow, deep breaths. Inhale through your nose, filling your belly with air, and exhale through your mouth, slowly releasing the air. Focus on your breath and try to release any tension in your body with each exhale.
Progressive muscle relaxation: Sit comfortably and tighten one muscle group at a time, holding for a few seconds, and then releasing. Start with your toes and work your way up to your head, including your legs, stomach, arms, neck, and face.
Guided imagery: Close your eyes and picture yourself in a peaceful place, such as a beach or forest. Use your imagination to visualize the scene and to sense every aspect of it. Try to let go of any worries or stressors.
Prenatal yoga: Practicing prenatal yoga poses and breathing exercises can help reduce stress, improve circulation, and alleviate pregnancy-related discomforts.
Meditation: Find a quiet place to sit comfortably and focus on your breath or a word or phrase that you repeat to yourself. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath or mantra.
Massage: A gentle massage can help relieve tension in your muscles and promote relaxation. You can use any unscented massage oil of your choice such as sweet almond oil. Consider a prenatal massage from a trained therapist.
Essential oils: Essential oils are a natural, safe way to support your wellbeing during pregnancy. Make sure you are using the right essential oil in your pregnancy because some are considered unsafe.
Exercise can help reduce stress and improve your mood. Exercising regularly including doing perineal exercises during pregnancy can provide many benefits for both the mother and the baby.
Regular exercise can help improve cardiovascular health, maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and hypertension, and prepare your body for childbirth.
Exercise releases endorphins, which can help reduce stress and anxiety and improve mood. It also reduces pregnancy-related discomforts such as back pain, constipation, and swelling. Better comfort will result in a better mood and less stress.
Get enough sleep
Sleep during pregnancy can have a significant impact on mood and emotional well-being. Sleep disturbances have been linked to increased anxiety, depression, and stress in pregnant women. Remember that pregnancy is tiring! Getting enough sleep can help maintain energy levels throughout the day so aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, try establishing a relaxing bedtime routine, avoiding caffeine and electronics before bed, and keeping your bedroom cool and dark. All the relaxation techniques above can also help you fall asleep. Find the right sleep position for you.
Eat a healthy diet
In addition to promoting fetal development, a balanced diet can help you feel better physically and mentally. Make sure you’re eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Here are some reasons why:
Supports maternal health: Eating a healthy diet during pregnancy can help maintain maternal health, reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, hypertension, and pre-eclampsia, and support healthy weight gain.
Boosts immune system: A healthy diet can help boost the immune system, which is important during pregnancy to help prevent infections that can harm the developing baby.
Increases energy levels: Proper nutrition can help maintain energy levels during pregnancy, which can be challenging due to the increased demands on the body.
A healthy diet during pregnancy should include a variety of nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products. It’s important to avoid certain foods during pregnancy, such as raw or undercooked meat, fish with high levels of mercury, unpasteurized dairy products, and certain other types of fish.
If you have questions about nutrition during pregnancy, talk to your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian. They can help you develop a healthy eating plan that meets your individual needs.
Empowering yourself through knowledge
One of the most effective ways to alleviate stress is through education. Understanding the changes your body is undergoing, the milestones of your baby's development, the ability to distinguish between the signs of real labor (vs. Braxton Hicks contractions), what include in your maternity checklist or pack in your hospital bag, and what expect during labor can significantly reduce anxiety and fear of the unknown. Seeking out reliable sources of information, attending prenatal birth preparation classes, can provide you with valuable insights and practical tips. This knowledge may give you the sense of control and confidence you need to gain a more relaxed pregnancy experience.
Connect with others
Connecting with others during pregnancy can have a positive impact on both the mother and the developing baby. Join a prenatal yoga class, attend a childbirth education class, or join a support group for expectant mothers. Talking to other pregnant women can be a great way to find support and reduce stress.
Here are some ways that social connections can help reduce stress in pregnancy:
Emotional support: Social connections can provide emotional support during pregnancy, which can help reduce stress and improve emotional well-being.
Improved mental health: Social isolation during pregnancy has been linked to increased risk of depression and anxiety. Connecting with others can help improve mental health during pregnancy.
Healthier behaviors: Connecting with others who are also pregnant or have children can provide motivation and support for healthy behaviors such as exercise and nutrition.
It’s important to find a support system that works for you and to talk to your healthcare provider if you are feeling isolated or struggling emotionally during pregnancy.
Give yourself permission to take breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge. Consider taking a nap, reading a book, going for a walk, or even just taking a few deep breaths. Taking breaks can help reduce physical fatigue and strain during pregnancy, which can in turn help prevent injuries and promote physical health. Even a short break can help restore energy levels, and low energy can be a problem due to the increased demands on the body.
If you are having trouble finding time to take breaks, talk to your employer about accommodations or talk to your healthcare provider for guidance.
Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. You can practice mindfulness by focusing on your breath, body sensations, or surroundings. There are many mindfulness apps and guided meditations specifically designed for pregnancy. Mindfulness practices such as meditation, deep breathing techniques, hypnobirthing, and visualization can help reduce stress and anxiety during pregnancy. Even the simplest meditation can help promote emotional well-being during pregnancy by increasing positive emotions and reducing negative emotions such as depression and anxiety.
Manage your stress during pregnancy effectively!
Remember that stress is normal during pregnancy, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed or having trouble coping, don’t hesitate to talk to your healthcare provider. They may be able to recommend additional resources or support.
You should not be alone in this.