Managing Stress During Pregnancy
Let’s face it: pregnancy can be uncomfortable. And it can be stressful. You have people on all sides telling you that it’s such a wonderful time, that every change your body is undergoing is completely normal and natural, and all the while, you’re feeling too guilty to admit that those physical changes are leaving you feeling stressed.
The morning sickness, mood swings, fatigue, hunger, not to mention the weight gain almost makes it feel like you’re no longer in control of your body.
We want to assure you that it’s perfectly okay to have these mixed feelings about all these life changes. If you’re feeling stressed about your pregnancy, take heart in the fact that there are many ways to make the time during your pregnancy easier and way less stressful and they all boil down to these two lifestyle changes:
- Realize that you’ll have to develop new coping skills and routines during your pregnancy to carry over after the baby arrives.
- Take time to organize your life to accommodate pregnancy and a new family dynamic.
Develop New Coping Skills and Routines Now
One of the most important things for you to do at this time is to take a step back and look at your current lifestyle: are you making time for the most important things – family, friends, relaxation, hobbies? Is there room in your schedule to accommodate new lifestyle changes?
It may be hard to wrap your mind around it, but many aspects of your reality will have to change during and after pregnancy. Ask yourself these important questions:
- What aspects of my daily life are incompatible with my pregnancy or with a new baby? Maybe you commute by bicycle to work and will have to find another mode of transportation. Or maybe you go out with your partner every week and have a glass of wine with friends and you realize that you’ll have to find new places to hang out. Whatever it may be, taking stock of these changes before they need to happen will save you a lot of stress in the future.
- How do I currently manage stress? Can I use these same methods during pregnancy? If not, what are some other methods I could try? Let’s say you used to meet for cocktails with your girlfriends to relieve stress after a long week. Maybe instead you and those same friends go to a yoga class and then meet for tea after. A much more pregnancy-friendly option.
- How can my partner and I communicate productively? Good communication is absolutely key during this time. If you are feeling frustrated or need more from your partner, tell them.
- Are we financially prepared? It’s no secret that children can be expensive but with prior planning, it is completely manageable. Determine if you will need to adjust the household budget and how you want to go about doing that. Consult a professional if this is an area you don’t feel completely comfortable in.
- Will it be beneficial to set boundaries with family? A new baby is an exciting time for both you and your family but you have to decide how intimate of an involvement you want between your baby, your family, and your in-laws. Are there certain topics you don’t want them involved in? Let them know that before the baby even arrives.
If you need help evaluating these questions, don’t hesitate to consult with your provider. We’ve been through this many times and we’re here to help!
Organize Your Life to Minimize Stress
The best way to handle stress is to get ahead of it and this is just as applicable during pregnancy. If you modify your life as early as you can, then it won’t all hit you at once and knock you off your feet. Here are our suggestions:
- Formulate new routines early on in your pregnancy: Your life after the baby is born is going to look a bit different and it’s best to establish those new routines before that time comes. This might include meal prepping on the weekends, creating grocery lists rather than roaming around the store for hours, and making plans to see friends rather than relying on spontaneous hang-outs.
- Write things down: hormonal changes can cause pregnant women to become a little forgetful. It’s completely natural but there are also easy ways to combat this. Write down your new schedule, jot down reminders and to-do lists, record important dates in the calendar app on your phone and set reminders. If this isn’t something you do regularly, now is the perfect time to start.
- Create a list of activities that relieve stress for you so that before you even get stressed, you know exactly how to cope with it. Here are some ideas: going for a walk, meditating, taking a long bath, pampering yourself, getting a professional pedicure, etc..
- Find an unbiased sounding board: Find someone – a therapist, a local or online community of mothers, etc. – with whom you can speak openly about your stress. Because they have no involvement in your pregnancy but they do have knowledge of prior experience, they can provide you with feedback that gives you the reassurance that what you’re going through is normal.
Have you ever heard the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? This quote is just as applicable in managing stress during pregnancy as with any medical procedure. Many women go through postpartum blues due to changes in hormones and lifestyle. Preparing for these changes prior to them occurring will help in keeping you grounded after your new baby is born.