Stress can make our heart race, our blood pressure rise and our bodies go into fight or flight mode. The negative effects of stress on pregnancy have been well studied. In fact, studies have shown that the effects of stress during pregnancy don’t just affect a fetus’ development in the womb, but throughout their life and even impacts future generations. The need for having tools, strategies, and support to reduce stress throughout life, but especially during pregnancy, cannot be emphasized enough.
Think about the stress you face on a daily basis, how it impacts you, and what you do to minimize or combat this stress? If you face a lot of stress and/or don’t have well-developed coping mechanisms, then the following tips are for you!
1. Surround Yourself with Postive, Supportive People
We do not say this with the ignorance of believing you can control every person you will have to interact with during your pregnancy. However, there are certain things you can do to minimize exposure to people who simply stress you out. For instance, if you notice that when you meet with your care provider (midwife or doctor) they speak to you in a manner that creates feelings of stress, then find another provider who makes you feel calm, supported, and excited (they do exist!). If your in-laws visiting makes your heart rate rise, as for your space and let them know they can visit after the baby is born and you are settled. Spend time with your partner, make time for your friends who are excited about your birth plans, maybe even find a support group of other women planning a similar type of birth.
2. Incorporate Meditation
Meditation is a great way to reduce stress levels, refocus, and find peace. Meditation takes many forms. Consider the following types of meditation:
- Body scanning
- Guided meditation
- Mantra meditation
3. Get Quality Sleep
Sleep plays a major role in mood regulation. If you do not get enough sleep or quality sleep, you may be more irritable and prone to stress. If you struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep, or you toss and turn, consider the following options to improve sleep:
- Create an evening routine
- Don’t eat for at least 2-3 hours before bed
- Avoid blue light and screens before bed
- Only use your bed for sleep & sex
- Utilize supplements such as melatonin (discuss with your care provider first)
4. Stay Active
Working out causes your body to release endorphins and has been proven to have many benefits such as reducing stress. This is just as true when you are pregnant as when you aren’t.
20-30 minutes of activity every day is recommended, but even just a 10-minute daily walk can provide significant benefits to your mind and body.
5. Take a Childbirth Class
Our final recommendation for how to reduce stress during pregnancy is to take a complete childbirth education class. Fear of the unknown can be a major stressor in life, especially during pregnancy. Taking a childbirth education class can help parents learn about how their body is designed to birth a baby, how to cope, how to surround themselves with a supportive team, and how to prepare. With all of this knowledge, parents can be at ease knowing that they are ready for whatever unique turn their birth takes.