Reducing stress in pregnancy

As soon as you find out that you’re expecting, your anxiety levels will start to creep up.

Growing a little person and bringing them into the world unsurprisingly brings worry. Are you eating the right things? Can you exercise? What was that twinge? The list goes on.

It’s only natural to worry about every little thing, especially if it’s your first, and/or you’ve experienced problems in conceiving.

But is it OK for the baby?

Why should you reduce stress in pregnancy?

When we experience stress, our bodies go into ‘fight or flight’ mode. They send out stress hormones that prepare us for danger, blasting fuel into muscles and making our hearts pump faster.

Stress can lead to complications for either Mum or baby during pregnancy so naturally, your midwife will recommend keeping stress levels down.

Don’t worry though, if you are stressed in pregnancy, you will most likely go on to have a healthy baby.  ‘Normal’ stress, or short bursts are totally manageable, as after the event is over, our bodies rebalance.

The problems arise if it’s on going and not managed. Constant stress can alter the body’s stress management system, causing it to overreact and trigger an inflammatory response, which can be really damaging.

So, it’s important to lower stress levels as much as possible during pregnancy, to avoid any potential consequences.

Ways to avoid stress in pregnancy

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Make time to rest – this is probably the single most annoying thing people might say to you when pregnant. Whether you’re just plain uncomfortable, trying to finish work off, or you have toddlers running around the place, chances are that rest feels pretty impossible. It is actually really important though. Aches and pains, or just high-running emotions will seem so much more manageable if you take some time out, and perhaps say ‘no’ to that extra thing you’ve agreed to do.

Take gentle exercise – we all know that exercise can be a great form of stress release. We’re not suggesting that you put your running shoes on and start pounding the streets though. Instead, take some time out for gentle exercise such as a walk in the fresh air, a low impact gym class at your own pace, or a swim providing your midwife says it’s safe to do so.

Eat well – diet has a huge impact on our physical and emotional state, especially during pregnancy. A healthy diet for pregnancy of omega-3 essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, can really help to lit your mood, and will also make you feel better about your changing body and the image you’ve probably conjured up of your new shape.

Talk to people - as the saying goes, anxiety breeds anxiety. If you bottle your worries up, the chances are that they will seem worse, so try to open up about what’s on your mind. Talk to people about the worries you have and you never know, they might be able to help you gain some perspective. After all, a problem shared is a problem halved. Organisations such as Tommy’s even have midwives at the end of the phone to help with any general queries you might have.

Try a bit of therapy – yoga and Pilates are not only great forms of exercise when you are pregnant, but can also help you to detach from the everyday stresses and strains. Look for a pregnancy yoga class nearby, or find out how to practice a bit of meditation each day as a form of therapy to help you relax and unwind.

Indulge yourself – there’s no better way to relax and unwind than taking a bit of time out to pamper yourself. Book yourself a pregnancy massage or pedicure, or if you’re keeping an eye on the finances, indulge yourself at home by creating a mini spa. Splash out on a luxurious melting body candle that you can use over and over again, to help to relieve stress and even reduce stretch marks. Then you just need to rope your partner in to help with the rest!