Pregnancy naturally can add a lot of stress to your everyday life. For each person it’s different, but stresses can include anything from trying to make healthy decisions to worrying about the health of your baby. Maybe you’re deciding if you’ll go back to work after the baby is born. Or maybe it is selecting the right daycare. Should you breast or bottle feed? Which hospital is the right choice? What makes a good pediatrician or car seat or crib?
You are truly turning your life upside down, so it’s easy to feel an increase of stress. Most doctors say a little stress is okay, but that you should try to avoid chronic stress as it can have developmental effects on the baby. Easier said than done, though, right? How about a few ideas to help alleviate some of the stress. Try one of these on for size!
- Eat Well – Don’t let the idea of it stress you out more, but eating well can truly help to alleviate some stress. The Boy Scouts have a motto that works well here: “Do your best!” So, try to add healthy food to your diet, but don’t sweat it if you do eat some unhealthy items or if you don’t get all the good stuff you need. Just do your best. Omega-3 fatty acids can help you to reduce depression. If you’re craving sweets, try some fresh fruit or make a fruit smoothie. It’ll satisfy that sweet craving, as well as give you some important vitamins.
- Exercise – When you’re lugging around that baby belly, it’s the last thing you want to do, right? Well, it can actually make you feel better and alleviate some stress. Swimming is a really great choice, as it doesn’t put extra stress on your joints. Plus, the weightlessness feels great! And if you’re experiencing your third trimester during July and August, that cool water feels amazing.
- Watch a Funny Movie – You heard that right! Take an afternoon off and enjoy a good belly-laughing comedy! Laughter is so good for the body and soul! It releases your natural “feel-good” body chemicals – endorphins – which promote a sense of well-being and can temporarily relieve pain. Laughter decreases stress hormones and it can increase immune cells and antibodies. Write yourself a prescription for Funny Movie Night every week!
- Cut Back on the Unnecessary – We know how much you have a need to make everything perfect for your new arrival. That’s natural. But, decide what must be done and what can wait. There’s no need to give yourself extra stress by trying to complete things that will wait. For example, it is okay to wait to put together the high chair – it will be several months before you need it anyway. Or, the nursey pictures don’t have to be hung before baby gets here. He or she won’t see them right away anyway.
- Have a Good Support Network – Ask a few friends or family members for help in completing tasks both before and after the baby arrives. They can help complete things that have become too difficult in your final months. But, also talk to them about things you anticipate needing afterwards. Knowing that you have a few trusted companions that you can rely on for things you need will help relieve some stress.
- Relax – Okay, what we really mean is try some relaxation techniques such as prenatal yoga or even meditation. Prenatal yoga can help you prepare your body for labor by stretching and toning muscles and regulating breathing. Meditation is an easy way relieve some stress. And it doesn’t take much time, either. Just 10 minutes each day can help to control the day’s stresses, but it also decreases anxiety, improves cardiovascular health and helps you to achieve greater relaxation.
- Sing or Play Music – It’s okay, you don’t have to be good at it. Singing and music helps to control cortisol (the stress hormone) levels. So, sing to yourself, to your family or if you’re feeling brave plan a karaoke night with your partner and some friends!
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- Take a Childbirth Class – Nothing makes your feel better than being prepared. And the best way to be prepared for a new baby is to take childbirth classes to help you become familiar with what to expect. Classes can help you practice breathing and relaxation techniques. You can learn about pain management options and when it is appropriate to ask for what type of relief. And, you can even learn about some of the basic things that might surprise you after birth or once you leave the hospital with your new little sweetheart. Being prepared has a way of relieving a little bit of stress, too.
We hope that one of a few of these tips will help to relieve some of your pregnancy stresses. Welcome to motherhood!