Stress is something that many of us have to deal with nowadays – with increasingly busy lives and busy jobs, juggling our home lives, working lives and social lives can make us very stressed out.
Stress during pregnancy is also incredibly common, especially in the early days of pregnancy as you get used to the news that you are going to have a baby. You may also be stressed out by trying to juggle work, family, pregnancy, finances and everything that goes with it – but this is entirely normal and is perfectly natural.
Stress during pregnancy is common, because of the sheer amount of hormonal changes going on in your body during pregnancy, but also because you may be worrying about how pregnancy will affect your relationships and your current life.
A talk with your midwife, doctor, or even simply friends and family should help to alleviate any fears you may have about these issues. Talking any worries you have through with your partner should also help to alleviate these fears – remember, a problem shared is a problem halved!
Generally, once you get past the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and you’ve relaxed into the pregnancy, you’ll stop feeling so stressed. However, if you are feeling stressed throughout your pregnancy, despite talking things through, you may need to seek a bit of extra help in the form of a counsellor through your doctor.
If you have to deal with a stressful life event, such as a death in the family, being laid off from work or a break up, you are more likely to feel stressed. But if you feel excessively stressed for long periods of time, you run the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and having a baby with a low birth weight.
Tips on dealing with stress
If you are feeling very stressed, see your doctor. It’s unlikely that your doctor will prescribe medication to you, due to the pregnancy, but they may refer you to a counsellor. Your midwife will also be able to refer you onto a local community group, and there is also plenty of support available online in the form of online communities. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and medication are also useful for dealing with stress throughout your pregnancy.
It’s very important that you make time for yourself during pregnancy. It’s probably one of the most important times in your life, and as you are nurturing a new life, it is vitally important that you look after yourself and your baby. So take some time out to relax, read a book and spend time with your bump and you may well find that you begin to be less stressed.
You should also try to relax off on chores and other household jobs – when you are pregnant, you will be less able to do all of the same things that you could do before pregnancy. You will get tired more easily, and because you are more likely to become swollen or a little clumsy during pregnancy, you may not be able to do all of the chores and go to work and look after yourself. Take the pressure off yourself and you should find that you begin to relax a little bit.
If it’s the birth you are worried about, the best way to relax about it is to learn as much as possible about the process. Speak to your midwife and doctor about what to expect. If you’re having a planned birth, or if you’re giving birth in a specific delivery suite or hospital, it may be worth seeing if you can tour the facility before the birth so you have some idea of what to expect. It’s also worth taking antenatal classes so that both you and your partner can know exactly what to expect and how the birth will progress.
Eating well and doing a little exercise is a great way to reduce stress during pregnancy. Gentle exercise releases endorphins, which will make you feel happier, and eating the right foods will give you a feel good glow that will improve your overall health. Eating well and doing a little gentle exercise is also good for your baby – the better the foods you eat, the more nutrients your baby gets, and if you do exercise, you are strengthening your body in preparation for the birth.
Above all, if you are feeling stressed out during pregnancy, treat yourself. Have a giggle with your friends by watching a girly film, or have a night out with your partner. If you can, take a holiday or a weekend break so that you can enjoy your time together before the baby. If you’re getting a little big for your clothes, try treating yourself by painting your nails or getting a pedicure. If you like, have a fake tan or buy yourself a new pair of shoes – if you feel good about yourself, you are likely to feel good about your pregnancy.
If you feel worried about your stress levels at any point, speak to your doctor.