While pregnancy is often full of positivity, excitement, and transformation, there is always some stress and anxiety that can emerge from carrying a baby. So, effective stress management during pregnancy can make a massive difference to the day-to-day life of mother and bump, and make for a much more enjoyable nine-month rollercoaster. And luckily, there are plenty of ways for expectant mothers to relax. Read on for some tips on reducing stress during pregnancy.
Wellbeing and Relaxation
It’s important to remember that, during pregnancy, you (and by extension, your baby) are the top priority. That makes self-care essential to boost well-being, aid relaxation, and get those stress levels down. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation are proven to be effective methods, as well as prenatal yoga — remember that hot, or Bikram yoga is strictly off-limits to pregnant women. There are a number of mobile apps that use different techniques to promote wellbeing, such as guided meditation— many of these are specifically geared towards expectant mothers, and are often free (or very cheap).
Support and Social Connection
Pregnancy can be a bit of a rollercoaster emotionally — enormous amounts of hormones are coursing through your body, and changing constantly. So you’ll need to make sure you have good lines of communication open with your family and loved ones who can offer comfort, reassurance, and a safe space to open up about any concerns and worries you have, no matter how trivial they may seem. If you’re used to a busy schedule, with work, and many social appointments or nights out with friends, suddenly being on maternity leave can seem a bit dull. There are plenty of prenatal support groups, or other community organisations that can provide a place to chat and share experiences.
Another way to reduce stress, and benefit yourself and your baby, is to exercise. Now, there are some obvious do’s and don’ts at play here — downhill skiing? Out. Cage fighting? Out. Basically, any full-contact sport is a bad idea. Scuba diving is also out, and so is mountain climbing, or anything else at high altitude — pregnancy already has enough ups and downs. With your doctor’s advice, some gentler exercise will aid relaxation, wellness, and energy levels. Fast walking is one that most expectant mothers can do. Swimming is also very popular, and other water-based activities such as aqua aerobics are easy on the body but beneficial. For keen cyclists there’s some good news — you can still get in the saddle. But many doctors will recommend using a stationary bike, particularly in the latter stages of pregnancy.
Pregnant or not, taking care of your health has a significantly positive impact on your physical and mental well-being. In pregnancy, this is all the more important — you’re eating for two now, as the old saying goes. A balanced diet, rich in nutrients, plenty of fruit and veg, good proteins, etc, will help balance your moods, energy levels, and help with sleeping. And talking of sleep — it’s a vital part of pregnancy. A good bedtime routine will help you get the shut-eye you need, so set up a relaxing space, get in the bath, read a little, meditate — whatever works for you.
Don’t Push it
Many expectant mothers appreciate the slow-down that comes with pregnancy. But many of us can’t sit still, and take on as many duties and responsibilities as possible. It’s time for a reality check, and some time management. Prioritise tasks, set achievable goals and remember — just say no to additional responsibilities. The last thing you need is pressure on your shoulders, and your family and friends need to understand that and support you. Delegate tasks and ask for help when you need it.
It’s important to rest as much as you can. That doesn’t mean you have to stay bedridden, but not over-exerting yourself will relax your mind as well as your body. Whether that means chilling in the park or catching up with films and TV shows is up to you. Remember — take advantage of the downtime now, because when the little one arrives, chill time departs.
Pregnancy doesn’t have to be stressful. With some of these techniques, anxiety can be banished, leaving you to enjoy and experience this unique time in your life in the best way possible.