These 14 little steps can help reduce the effects of stress and provide health benefits to you and your baby.
Stress affects everyone. But during pregnancy—a time of so many new concerns and changes—stressors can add up. The good news: Simple changes can help you deal with stress and minimize the effects of stress during pregnancy.
Eat your way to less stress during pregnancy.
1. In the morning, prepare a day’s worth of healthy snacks in small portable containers and place them within easy reach. Think carrot sticks, popcorn, fruits, yogurt, and nuts.
2. Swap junky comfort food for healthy versions: fiber-rich carbs, like baked sweet potatoes and vegetable soup.
How to reduce stress during pregnancy through exercise.
3. Stretch when you get up or have been sitting awhile. It will relax your muscles and make you feel less tense.
4. Even if you go slow when exercising, keep going. Remember that even something as low-impact as walking or swimming helps clear your mind and strengthen your body.
5. Sign up for a prenatal yoga class. A recent study showed that taking yoga class can help lower a mom-to-be’s anxiety level.
Breathe your way to less stress during pregnancy.
6. Take mini-breaks throughout the day to practice deep breathing and minimize the effects of stress during pregnancy. Close your eyes and picture your baby. Inhale and exhale slowly.
7. Try diversions such as meditation as a way to manage stress.
8. Aim for seven to nine hours a night, plus short catnaps.
9. Commit to wind-down time an hour before bedtime; stop work and phone calls and switch to reading or listening to music.
10. Explore sleep aid like blackout curtains, eye masks, ear plugs, or white-noise machines (fans and dehumidifiers work, too).
Talk your way to less stress during pregnancy.
11. Tell your worries to a friend or family member. Simply putting them out there will make you feel better—and others can help you see things in a fresh way or come up with new solutions.
12. Try chatting in an online pregnancy forum or expressing your worries or fears in a journal.
Plan your way to less stress during pregnancy.
13. Learn how to eliminate stress during pregnancy by making a list of all of the things that are stressing you. Then organize them, from big (financial worries, concerns about an upcoming prenatal test) to small (what to name the baby). Brainstorm possible solutions and all the ways you might solve the issue, tackling smaller stressors first. Taking first steps toward solutions will make you feel less anxious.
14. Consider taking a childbirth education, breastfeeding, or baby-care class, which can help demystify these new areas and boost your confidence.
The Power of Stress Relief
Creative coping is especially important now because unchecked stress during pregnancy can affect you and your baby in many ways.
- At the simplest level, the headaches and sleep trouble it can bring add to your discomfort.
- Many people turn to unhealthy eating habits to cope.
- High, ongoing levels of stress during pregnancy can even raise your blood pressure, which can increase the chance of preterm labor or a low-birth-weight baby.
- Severe stress during pregnancy may also be linked to postpartum depression.