You’re not alone if you’re feeling stressed! During pregnancy your body is going through a lot of changes that can leave you physically and mentally exhausted. You may find yourself being bombarded with lots of contradictory advice or worrying about every symptom you feel.
Don’t get too anxious about these feelings, as a little stress during pregnancy won’t harm you or your baby. However, if you’re feeling extremely stressed and anxious day-in-and-day-out, and finding life a little too hard to cope with, then talk to a doctor or midwife, as extreme, prolonged, stress during pregnancy can put you at higher risk of premature birth or having a baby born with low birth weight.
But for those mums-to-be who feel they can cope with their stress through self-help techniques, then here’s a list of ten things that you should avoid if you want to keep your life stress-free during pregnancy. If you treat your mind and body well, they will look after you and your baby in return. So, make time for yourself and try out some of these tips on how to remain relaxed, happy and stress-free during your pregnancy.
Finding the Balance
It’s difficult to survive stress in pregnancy, but we recommend you follow the challenge set this Stress Awareness Month- to do one thing for your physical and mental wellbeing each day. It takes 30 days to turn action into a habit – so why not start right now by actively avoiding some of the stress-enhancing pitfalls so many of us overlook.
1. Don’t keep your worries to yourself
Don’t bottle up your stress. Talk to your partner or pick up the phone and share how you really feel with a trusted family member or friend. And if it’s something that you’re finding particularly worrying, speak to someone you’re close to daily. Whether it’s a zoom, a call, a chain of texts or a face-to-face get together, getting something off your chest feels great. Plus catching up with an old friend (or hearing about someone else’s day-to-day routine) can take your mind off things, remind you of all the amazing support you have, and let you open-up about what’s bothering you.
2. Don’t let yourself become inactive
It’s easy to opt for the sofa and a film when you’re carrying a huge bump, which is making moving around more and more challenging. But staying active, whether walking or doing some gentle pregnancy exercise, is good for your physical health and that of your baby. Staying active is good for your mind too. It’s a chance for some time alone with your thoughts, to reduce stress and release endorphins. Whether it’s a short daily workout at home or in the gym, a walk or gentle jog, or a spot of yoga, taking some time to keep active each day can make all the difference.
For more information on how to avoid inactivity in pregnancy why not read our past blog, all about the best ways to keep fit and healthy during pregnancy (and about the myths surrounding pregnancy exercise that you needn’t worry about!)
3. Don’t decline practical help
Don’t think you can do it all! Ask your partner or housemate to take over some of your daily chores. Maybe they can cook for you, clean the kitchen, take the bins out, carry the shopping…. whatever you want. You’re pregnant! You get to be spoilt!
4. Don’t forget how important it is to relax
Be realistic about how much work you should be doing each day, and how much responsibility you should be taking on. You’re allowed to say no and allowed to take time out for yourself. Especially whilst pregnant, rest is important, so take a minute for yourself each day with a relaxing bath, meditation, listening to some music or getting a massage from your partner – and don’t over-work yourself.
5. Don’t forget to eat properly
It’s important to maintain a nutritious and healthy diet whilst pregnant, it will benefit you, your baby and your mind! We put together this blog debunking some of the famous pregnancy food myths that might be stressing you out, and sorted out all the nutritional info you need to know for a healthy pregnancy too. This month, why not try to make one of your three meals a day an uber healthy one – it will leave you feeling great!
6. Don’t overlook the importance of connecting with new people
Just because you’re pregnant, doesn’t mean you can’t make new friends. Now’s an especially important time to connect with other expectant mothers or new parents. You could ask your midwife to recommend local services or groups, or get online yourself and find groups, events or forums, where you can connect with people having similar experiences to your own. Why not set time aside each day to spend half an hour looking for new groups or connecting with new people you’ve recently made contact with. After all these new contacts could become mummy friends for life!
7. Don’t forget that your pregnancy is only temporary
It really helps to take time out to remind yourself that, good or bad, this pregnancy is for a finite period. All the pregnancy niggles, aches and pains that may be causing you stress are only temporary and they will pass.
8. Don’t rule out alternative therapy
Alternative therapies are said to help with many pregnancy complaints, from nausea to joint pains, and stress. We’ve assembled a list of great treatments to try, and ways to do them from home. So why not set aside an hour at the end of the day to introduce some homeopathy, a massage or some relaxing aromatherapy into daily routine - we’re sure you’ll find it’s a great way to de-stress and relax at home.
9. Don’t ignore your stressors
One of the best ways to find out what it is that’s making you tense is to note down the things that stress you out – a particular colleague, a particular chore, long days, etc. Try listing these out for the next 30 days and then focus on avoiding getting yourself into situations where you are bothered by these things. You can also begin to notice signs that you are getting stressed, whether it’s mood swings, sleep problems, eating problems, etc. And when you recognise that you are getting stressed take the opportunity to deploy a stress management technique. A breathing exercise, a walk, or some other kind of relaxation. There are many online self-help programs available to help you manage your stress – why not start with the NHS for a list of techniques that might work for you.
10. Don’t focus on the negatives
You may not be able to go out and do everything you want to. But instead of getting stressed out by the ‘can’t’ focus on the ‘can’. If you’re feeling less inclined to go out all the time, then you have more time to spend with your housemate or partner, more time for hobbies, for reading, for cleaning out that drawer, for creativity, for decorating, for cooking…. basically for doing things you always wanted to do but never had time for! Make sure you set aside an hour each day to focus on doing things that make you feel happy, for the remainder of your pregnancy.
Feeling Stress While Pregnant
Feeling stress while pregnant is natural and normal. Remember that there are many self- help techniques which allow you to survive stress during pregnancy, and your doctor or midwife will be well-versed in treating stress too.
The key message here is to just be kind to yourself, and to recognise when you do need a break. Treat your mind and body well, and they will look after you and your baby in return. So, make time for yourself and try out some of these tips to remain relaxed, happy and survive stress during your pregnancy.