Managing Stress During Pregnancy
You will likely feel stressed at some point during your pregnancy. Don’t worry, it’s completely normal! Pregnancy can be an overwhelming process, causing you to feel a mix of emotions. The trick is not to avoid all stress but keeping your stress at a manageable level. Here are a couple of ways that you can reduce stress and boost your sense of wellness during your pregnancy.
Get Enough Sleep
This is one of the biggest things to focus on during your pregnancy, especially in your third trimester. Even if it somehow feels indulgent to take a scheduled nap each day, it isn’t! You’re creating the most restful and stress-free environment for your developing baby. Your body is likely feeling the ravages of pregnancy – swollen ankles, sore back, and tired legs. So, go to bed early and nap when you want to.
Expectant moms can exercise, but they need to listen closely to their doctor’s advice when working out. Avoid engaging in any strenuous exercising such as weight lifting or marathon-level runs. Walking, Yoga, and swimming are three ways to get in some stress-reducing exercise without taxing your body to the point where it becomes dangerous. Try to do something manageable every day, versus over-exerting yourself just two or three days a week.
Eat the Right Foods
Stress and mood are similar concepts, and truly go hand in hand when you consider the physiological influencers of both. By eating the right foods, you can introduce specific enzymes that are proven to change your mood for the better. For instance, Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish (e.g. mackerel, sardines, tuna, and salmon) are shown to reduce depression. Melatonin is an essential piece of the puzzle when it comes to getting enough sleep and feeling rested. The amino acid tryptophan helps raise melatonin levels in the body. You can eat nuts, seeds, chicken, turkey, eggs, fish, cheese, and yogurt to boost tryptophan intake and feel more rested.
Address Money Matters
Money is a source of great stress for many of us. Feeling unprepared or in financial limbo during the latter stages of your pregnancy can boost stress levels. To combat this, make a list of the money-related issues you want to tackle early on. Start by ensuring you have all of your maternity leave paperwork filed and that your work issues are in order. Then, set up some or all of your major bills on auto-pay. This creates less worry about late payments if you end up staying in the hospital longer than you thought. When it comes to buying baby-related items, keep in mind that your little one will grow into and out of clothes, toys, and accessories really quickly. A good idea is to set a budget so that you don’t overspend.
Use Relaxation Techniques
There is a lot of research out there that shows how a variety of relaxation techniques can help minimize stress and actually improve your physical health. Conscientiously focusing on relaxing your mind, body, and soul can ease muscle tension, reduce stress-inducing hormone levels, and calm your blood pressure and heart rate. All of these health benefits can create a more peaceful and happier you. Yoga is a great option for combining relaxation with a mild workout. Mindful meditation can also help you find your center to better manage the stresses that are bound to exist during your pregnancy.
Don’t feel like you need to handle your pregnancy alone. Pull in all of your available resources and let others know what you need from them to ensure a comfortable and safe pregnancy. Your partner should be given the opportunity to earn their “hero badge” during this time, as you can and should ask for whatever help you need to make you feel good. Giving birth can be incredibly overwhelming, so you should feel comfortable to ask for help when you need it.
Stress is a natural part of any pregnancy. Just remember that the end result of this stress is a little bundle of joy that will make it all worth it in the end.