Improving Your Stress In Pregnancy!
For some mothers, pregnancy is a time of personal growth, connectedness and tuning in. But for others, pregnancy can be a continual source of stress, anxiety and/or depression due to the massive amounts of circulating hormones and naturally heightened emotions. Improving your stress in pregnancy is possible and helps mum and bubs!
Concerns about becoming a mother, changing body, adequate nutrition, appropriate exercise, preparing for the birth, finances and so on is entirely normal. However, past experiences such as miscarriage, health challenges, a previously difficult pregnancy or birth or challenging personal circumstances can all contribute to heightened levels of stress resulting in anxiety, depression and raising cortisol (our stress hormone) levels.
Sustained stress can affect your baby
Normal everyday stress such as balancing work and home life and normal worries about pregnancy are a fact of life. But sustained stress in pregnancy can have a significant impact on the health of your developing baby in these ways:
- If we are stressed we find it harder to nurture and look after ourselves. We may find that we cut corners and don’t nourish our bodies, exercise or get sufficient sleep – this means bubs may not be getting enough nutrients or our bodies aren’t functioning at optimal level.
- Secondly, research is starting to show us how prenatal maternal stress in having an impact on developing babies. Prenatal mothers that experience high levels of psychosocial stress are affecting how their children’s metabolism, immune system, hormonal regulation and cognitive function work in the long term. The baby’s internal chemical environment is altered, setting them up for possible depression and anxiety later on in life.
- Third, cortisol can affect oxygen and blood flow to the baby. Women with prenatal depression, anxiety or stress are more likely to deliver premature and low-birth-weight babies.
What You Can Do About It?
Okay so now you know its an issue what can you do about stress in pregnancy?
- Practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation and mindfulness can provide you with the necessary tools to bring down your stress levels, and help you stay grounded and calm during your pregnancy.
- Make sure you get good advise on how to provide your body with the right nutrients that are critical for each stage of pregnancy, as well as providing the essential cofactors required for bubs and for your stress and mood. Yes vitamin and minerals help supports us and there is an extra need when stress is higher, especially for nutrients such as B vitamins and magnesium just to name a few.
- Think about doing only the things you have to do, don’t take on any new jobs/tasks, learn to say no and learn to be fine with others helping you out.
- Ensure that you go to sleep at a decent hour, to get your 8 hours a night. Think about the quality of your sleep.
- This might be the time whereever possible to avoid moving home, renovating, painting (the baby dosent care if their room is not painted and in fact go do without the extra toxic load of sleeping in a newly painted room).
- Pregnancy is also a good time to avoid huge confrontations or arguments, where you can don’t go out of your way to bring up things that you know would generally bother you or get too caught up with those that you generally have a lot of drama with.
- Now is not the time to eat lots of junk food, processed food, nor do any type of diets, stick with good nutrient dense foods that are whole and unprocessed, keep to as much variety and completely avoid alcohol. We also recommend staying off coffee as its a stimulant. Avoid high amounts of tinned fish, additives and foods you know bother you. Have as much variety as possible.
- Nourish yourself, go for walks, listen to relaxing music and spend time with people you feel relaxed with. Look for yoga pregnancy groups for something a little different.
Find out more about meditation
Find our ecourse on stress management here and how it can help.
*If you are pregnant and under extreme amounts of stress or feeling depressed, you should talk with a counsellor or psychologist about ways to help you.