7 Ways to Manage Stress and Anxiety During Pregnancy
Pregnancy should be a magical time. Unfortunately, you have those pesky fluctuating hormones and stress about health, relationships, finances, and significant life changes.
Anxiety during pregnancy is normal. But when chronic, your baby could be at risk for preterm birth, low birth weight, and earlier gestational age, which can all lead to health complications.
Additionally, anxiety can worsen your pregnancy symptoms, causing a cyclical effect.
We’ve compiled a list of 7 ways to manage stress and anxiety during pregnancy, for the health of yourself and your baby.
Consider Therapy or Counseling
One of the first things to know about anxiety is that it is not a sign of weakness. Anxiety is a mental health condition that is completely normal during pregnancy.
A mental healthcare professional is someone who will be able to normalize your worries and stress. Additionally, they can empower you to learn how to regulate your fluctuating emotions and contain your maladaptive or obsessive thoughts.
Choose a medical social worker if you’re seeking guidance in the form of an understanding of the intricacies of pregnancy. And if you have financial or situation-related concerns.
We highly encourage seeking a mental healthcare professional or attending a support group during your pregnancy. You can air all of your pregnancy woes without fear of judgment in a reassuring, supportive, and validating atmosphere.
Mindfulness can aid with concentration issues, mood fluctuations, depression, low self-compassion, interpersonal communication issues, sleep troubles, and general mental well-being.
But what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness encompasses moment-to-moment presence and a connection to yourself and the world around you. Therefore, preventing you from getting lost in negative thoughts and emotions.
Set up a routine of self-care journaling for simple upkeep. In the morning, write down the emotion you’re feeling in the moment and the intensity of it. Follow this up with an affirmation and something for which you’re grateful. Repeat daily.
Take yourself and your baby bump for a mindfulness walk. And focus fully on all your 5 senses to bring you into the present moment. This self-awareness can relieve you from worries about the past and future.
Practice Deep Breathing and Relaxation Techniques
When your anxiety increases, your breathing becomes lighter and more scattered.
So, then, can managing your breathing not ease your anxiety? The answer is a resounding yes! Deep, diaphragmatic breathing allows oxygen to flow to your muscles, body, and brain, inducing relaxation.
Regularly, find a comfortable seating position with your back straight. Take long, belly-filling breaths. Inhale through your nose and exhale slightly longer through your mouth. All the while, systematically relax your tense face, jaw, neck, and shoulders.
This connection to your breathing cycle focuses your attention away from troublesome thoughts and emotions. Deep breathing also stimulates your nervous system and brings about a feeling of groundedness and control.
It can be tempting to skip exercise during pregnancy due to exhaustion. However, just 20-30 minutes a day of low-impact physical activity works wonders on a pregnant individual’s mind and body.
One of our “happy hormones”, known as endorphins, is released during exercise. Endorphins are fantastic mood enhancers, and natural painkillers, and they reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression!
Scheduling exercise time for yourself is also a form of self-care, which can lead to less stress during pregnancy.
So, why not get your heart rate up and ease those tense muscles with yoga, walking, dancing, swimming (or aqua natal classes), and other safe, low-impact aerobic activities? And do so in nature whenever you can for some fresh air.
In addition to regular exercise, eating a balanced, moderation-based diet is a necessity during pregnancy.
Consume a good mix of healthy food and plenty of water. Therefore, you and your baby can get the nutrients you need for strong minds and bodies. But feel free to treat yourself every once in a while – you deserve it!
A healthy diet can combat anxiety. And eating regular meals can prevent drops in blood sugar that cause tiredness and irritability.
There are various foods that promise a healthy pregnancy. But always remember to take your prenatal vitamins. And avoid caffeine as much as possible!
Get Enough Quality Sleep
A strict schedule of 7-9 hours of sleep per night is ideal, but not necessarily viable during pregnancy.
Your body’s physical changes in structure (and needing to utilize the bathroom multiple times a night) are a recipe for disrupted sleep. And disturbed sleep can elevate anxiety and stress levels tremendously.
Your body is going through an ordeal. So, take care of it with a calming evening ritual. A warm bath, caffeine-free herbal tea, calming music, and reduced screen time. Figure out your perfect bedtime routine!
Don’t forget that sleep has a strong relationship with diet and exercise. Get adequate exercise (and light exposure) during the day to make sleeping easier. And avoid caffeine and indigestion-causing foods close to bedtime.
Connect with Supportive People
It may be tempting to try to do everything yourself. But pregnancy is the perfect time to practice asking for and accepting help.
There are different forms of support, such as emotional support and instrumental support. Both of these types of support take a weight off your shoulders and reduce your anxiety. But you need to be specific with your chosen people as to how they can help and support you.
Identify those who can provide emotional support, which includes empathy, love, understanding, caring, and taking pride in your accomplishments. Identify those who can provide instrumental support, whom you can count on to help you with concrete tasks when you need them.
Then speak up. Tell your support system what you need. And be specific.