Pregnancy can be an incredibly exciting, frustrating and worrisome experience. On top of the regular everyday anxiety, mothers-to-be can easily become more overwhelmed throughout the day. During pregnancy, your body and environment can undergo massive changes. Making plans for birth means making plans for this rather large lifestyle change, and the thought of that can be very overwhelming.
It’s commonly known that stress negatively affects mental and physical health. During pregnancy, It’s important to keep unnecessary stress to a minimum as prolonged periods of stress can elevate levels of stress hormones in amniotic fluid. Prenatal stress can increase the chance of a shorter pregnancy and can affect the baby’s development.
While you can’t remove stressful situations from your life, you are in control of how you react to them. Here are five techniques that experts have shared to minimize stress during pregnancy.
1. Starting the Day Right With Mindfulness
If you’re already stressed and it’s not even 9 AM, take a few minutes to re-set. Bring your attention and awareness to your breath. Inhale deeply and try to make your exhalations longer than your inhalations. As you breathe, focus on your chest rising and falling and relax your facial muscles. This helps calm the nervous system and gives you a sense of grounding and being in control. Being mindful of your thoughts and knowing exactly what is going on inside and outside yourself can help you become present and block out worries. Taking a few minutes to just breathe and sit still can help you bond and connect with your baby.
2. Be Kind to Yourself, Especially When your Jeans Don’t Zip Up
Learn to give yourself some love when you’re pregnant. You’re growing a little human, which is an incredibly magical and difficult task. It’s okay if your jeans won’t zip up. Every pregnant woman experiences that. Especially on the days when you try on an outfit you wore last week and it no longer fits. When you inevitably experience this, take a moment to love yourself instead of spiralling into negative thoughts and feelings. Repeat a positive affirmation: You are strong and healthy. You are growing life. Change is okay. If you’ve had a long day and feel like all these little things are adding up, take a long indulgent soak in a bath, put on some relaxing music and try to give yourself some time for rest.
3. Sign up for Pregnancy Yoga
Yoga is a type of exercise that focuses on mental and physical well being. In pregnancy, it’s a great way to stay active and engage your muscles. It’s been shown to help women stay calm and reduce anxiety during pregnancy and labour, and can even help you sleep. Yoga helps you focus on your breathing and can help you ease muscle stiffness, aches and pains by stretching them out. If you haven’t tried yoga, we highly recommend you start with a Prenatal class, but wait until you’re at least 14 weeks to start. Most prenatal classes target women in their 2nd or 3rd trimesters.
“I did 8 weeks of prenatal yoga through both of my pregnancies. It’s something that helped me bond with my baby and truly got me to relax. During my first pregnancy I was feeling extremely overwhelmed and yoga is the only thing that helped ease that stress.” - Mariah, Neeva Mommy
4. Keep Exercising
Most exercises are safe to do while you’re pregnant. Please make sure you discuss with your doctor prior to attempting anything you’ve never done. If you were physically active before pregnancy you should be able to continue your activity, as long as you exercise in moderation. The aim here isn’t to maintain the same level of activity as before, but to continue a regular exercise schedule to help you stay healthy and feel your best.
If you’ve had a stressful day, try going for a walk. Even if you’re feeling sick, tired or heavier than usual, taking a walk outside, especially around nature can drastically improve how you feel. If you don’t like taking walks, try swimming or prenatal yoga.
5. Manage your To Do List
If you have a million things to do before the baby comes, meditating in the morning, or reflecting on your thoughts can help you sort through things. Meditating allows you to clear your mind and understand what is really a priority to get done.
Taking a few minutes to breath and then writing down a list of what you feel you need to accomplish can help you feel like you have more control of the day. Then, instead of worrying about the entire list, prioritize what’s important by working backwards and assessing what needs to be done first, what items you’ll use first and so on.
Yes, the crib, car seat, and everything else you haven’t gotten yet is a priority, but if you’re not due for a few months, it’s okay. Try letting go of overwhelm by focusing on getting one item on your list at a time. That way instead of worrying about everything, you’re taking action and tackling the list strategically.