Pregnancy can be a wonderful, exciting, and amazing time. But with pregnancy, comes many changes, which also have the potential to bring added stress. With or without pregnancy, undue stress can negatively affect your body, causing headaches, stomach aches, high blood pressure, chest pain, sleeping issues, and can exacerbate existing conditions like diabetes, asthma, arthritis, depression, heart problems, and anxiety. During pregnancy, high levels of stress and ongoing stress can increase the risk of premature birth and, while research is still trying to better understand the effects of stress on baby, initial reports are showing that high levels of stress can affect baby after birth. Keep in mind that the type of stress we're talking about here is not typical, everyday stresses like a busy workday and long to-do lists, but serious, major stressful life events or types of chronic stress. To better cope with stress encountered during your pregnancy, consider one or more of the following strategies.
Pinpoint your source(s) of stress. If you know what it is that is causing major stress in your life, you may be able to better work through it and find solutions to resolving.
Find a qualified therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist. Sometimes our stress is bigger than what we can reasonably handle. Talking with someone who is trained to help with these kinds of issues is always a good idea.
Carve out time for yourself. If you feel pulled in a million different directions, it will be nearly impossible to reduce your stress levels. Take a moment, say "no" to something that is within your power to do so and carve time out just for yourself. Do anything -- or nothing at all. Listen to your body and mind's needs and answer them.
Exercise. Exerise produces endorphins, which are natural stress busters. Even a brisk walk can help.
Surround yourself with people who love you without judgement. Spend time with and/or talk to those in your circle who can love you unconditionally. Now is not the time for "tough love" or judgemental comments.
Be gentle with yourself. It's easy to be critical of yourself, but in times of high stress, it's critical to put your criticisms to rest. Now is the time to give yourself a pass and be gentle with yourself.
Attend a yoga class. Yoga is way more than stretching and posing -- it involves meditation and teachings about peace and self-love. Regular yoga practice, both in class and solo, can improve your sense of peace and relaxation.
Go outside. The simple act of changing your environment from indoors to out can help instantly to improve your mood. Aim to spend at least 15 minutes a day in nature.
Attend a childbirth class and hire a doula. A comprehensive childbirth class and support from a doula are two great ways to help relieve stress in pregnancy. Giving yourself the gift of support and education will go a long way in helping you have a healthy pregnancy and birth.
Journal. The act of writing out your thoughts and feelings can help you better process your emotions, or at the very least, give you a way to "offload" the heavy things you're carrying around.