Whether it’s financial obligations, family worries or long working hours, everyone has some stress in their life – and we know it’s not great for our health, especially if you happen to be pregnant.
A study published in The British Journal of Psychiatry – suggests the children of women who suffer moderate stress during pregnancy are around 3x more likely to develop a personality disorder by the age of 30, and around 10x more likely if the mother reported severe stress levels.
It’s not always easy, but dealing with stress via healthy tools and coping strategies can help. Here are some tips and ideas for fostering some rest and relaxation during pregnancy…
1. Talk about it
Anticipating a big life change like the birth of a child can cause emotional stress for many expectant mothers.
It’s also totally normal to feel anxious about the idea of going into labour – whether it’s the fear of pain, complications during birth, or simply the unknown that keeps you awake at night.
If your worries are overwhelming you though, it’s a good idea to talk through your thoughts with a therapist.
“Share your stress and worries with someone else, such as a therapist, and remember your GP is always there for you too,” says Dr Stephanie Ooi, GP at MyHealthcare Clinic.
“We are particularly interested in a woman’s mental health during pregnancy, so if you feel things are getting too much, then please see your GP.”
2. Start saying ‘no’
It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others, and thanks to social media, we can often feel the need to keep up with mummy bloggers and expectant celebrities, who seem able to juggle everything with ease.
Remember though, what you see online is often a filtered version of reality and now is the time to prioritise your physical and mental health.
Don’t say yes to every social engagement, take a break from social media if you need to, ask friends and family to chip in with house work and put rest, relaxation and early nights at the top of your agenda.
3. Adopt meditation and breathing techniques
A really simple way to chill out while you’re on-the-go is to learn some breathing techniques. Apps like Calm and Stop, Breathe & Think can teach you the basics, and you can tap into them anytime, anywhere.
“These techniques can really help to de-stress at the end of the long day,” says Ooi. “Pregnancy yoga may also be something you enjoy.”
4. Book a pregnancy massage
Who doesn’t love a good excuse to book in for a pampering session?
The NHS say there is evidence to support the use of massage for treating anxiety during pregnancy, but there are still times during pregnancy when they may not be safe.
For instance, you shouldn’t have your abdomen massaged during the first three months of pregnancy. It’s also not advised in high-risk pregnancies.
If you’ve spoken with your GP or midwife about it and have been given the green light, the next step is to find a qualified practitioner in pregnancy massage.
“Giving yourself some ‘you time’ for your body and mind during pregnancy is essential. An amazing way of ensuring your body is looked after while it is working very hard is through regular massage. says Nicola Elliott of ProHealth Therapy Rooms. “Massage can be life changing and can really help to prevent pain, iron out those tension areas, promote sleep patterns, and can help to reduce stress any anxiety levels.“
5. Connect with other mums
If you’re feeling stressed about your pregnancy, it might feel like you’re the only one that’s going through it. It’s a good idea to try and find local support groups in your area where you can meet others who relate to what you’re going through.
6. Arm yourself with information
Sometimes the most stressful thing about pregnancy is not knowing how your body is changing and your baby is developing. This is where ante-natal classes can help.
Ante-natal can help in a variety of ways, like coaching through birth and answering any questions you might have.
“If you have any worries about pregnancy symptoms or what you can or cannot eat, then look to accurate resources such as the NHS. Or see your midwife or GP for further advice,” says Dr Ooi.