There are a million and one reasons why stress is an inevitable part of the pregnancy experience. Growing a new life is no mean feat, and hormonal changes can bring out the best and worst in an expectant mum.
It’s perfectly normal to worry about all manner of things, like whether or not you are eating, drinking, doing the right things, if baby is healthy and growing well, about what the future will looks like, and whether or not you and your husband are ready for the roller coaster ride of parenthood that’s looming ahead. (Although if your worrying sends you to the point of depression or feeling frequently overwhelmed and weepy, do seek out a professional counselor, as you may have an anxiety disorder.)
While everyday pressure is part and parcel of life, a high level of chronic stress can lead to preterm labor, other pregnancy complications, or a low-birthweight baby. You probably can’t eradicate stress completely from your life, but here are a few ways to keep the fears under control, and manage your stress in a healthy manner.
- Share with your spouse
Don’t bottle it all up inside. Share your fears – first with your partner and, if necessary, to a few close friends or family members. Chances are, you’ll find that your husband, and fellow mummy friends, have experienced similar concerns. Talking openly about how you feel to your spouse can open up new channels and levels of intimacy between you and him, even if (maybe especially so) it’s about an issue to do with him, and allows both of you to be an encouragement and support to one another,
- Minimize workplace stress
Where possible, cut down on any unnecessary stress at the office. If you work long hours or deal with intensely pressurizing deadlines or situations on a daily basis, you may need to speak with your boss to try to work an alternative arrangement out for these few months. Taking care of your emotional as well as physical health is vital, for the sake of baby and you.
- Cut back on household chores
Yes, a clean home is still important, but certainly not worth losing that baby over. Whenever you can, try to put your feet up, nap, or do something that relaxes you, such as listening to music or reading a book. Those squeaky clean, sparkling homes that you see in parenting magazines or on mummy blogs? They’ve got part-time help – trust us on this. In fact, if this is something you can afford, hiring someone to come in to help with the housework once or twice a month can free you up to rest more.
- Exercise regularly
Committing to a regular session of swimming, slow jogging or brisk walking can be beneficial for your health and allow your body to relax. Think 3-5 times a week, in 30min slots. If exercise has never been part of your life, now’s a good time to start! However, do check with your gynae before proceeding with an exercise routine.
- Do deep-breathing exercises
Deep-breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. When you breathe deeply, it sends the message to your brain to calm down and relax, and this message is then sent to all the parts of your body. Your heart rate slows down, and your blood pressure drops when you breathe deeply.
- Sleep at much as you can!
Go to bed early. Your body is already working overtime to nourish the new life growing inside you, and needs all the rest it can get! Don’t pack your weekends to the brim – sleep in when you can. Sleep, you’ll discover, is a precious commodity most new parents find hard to get.
- Beware of “information overload”
It is good to be informed and prepared for parenthood, but too many pregnancy books, websites and opinions can be overwhelming and consume your heart and mind excessively. Remember to treasure and enjoy every moment of your pregnancy while you can.
- Find a support group
Find a group of mummy friends you can connect with, or start one of your own. The truth is, every parent faces struggles that are unique, but many that are common to all. Spending time with others who can empathize and relate to your situation can provide the essential support that you need to accept your current reality and move on positively.
By Dorothea Chow