Here are several ways to manage your day-to-day stress during pregnancy.
Expectant mothers can experience a host of physical and mental symptoms, including fatigue, rapid body changes, labour anxiety, and loneliness. A certain amount of stress is therefore completely normal. But when that stress becomes overwhelming, it’s important to take action. Here are a few tips to help you control your stress levels during pregnancy.
Drop all non-essential activities. Identify urgent tasks and set aside those that can wait. Think of your own well-being before worrying about the well-being of others.
In addition, be sure to focus on what you can control and try not to worry about all the things you can’t, as feeling in control helps boost self-confidence. Finally, try to set realistic goals.
Take time to relax
Dedicate pockets of time for yourself. You could read, go for a walk, or take a long, hot bath. If possible, limit household chores. If you already have children, have them babysat occasionally. Ask your loved ones for help so you can take a moment to unwind. Everything feels easier when you’re well rested. At work, try to elevate your feet and relax during your lunch break.
Stay active, eat well, and sleep well
These tips may sound trivial, but exercise, diet, and sleep can have a big influence on your state of mind.
Eating well during pregnancy is a good way to practise self-care. Getting enough nutrients helps reduce fatigue and energy loss. Make sure to eat three meals a day, and listen to your body’s hunger cues. Try to keep your diet varied; think fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein (legumes, tofu, eggs, nuts and seeds, red meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products).
Furthermore, studies have shown that exercise reduces the risk of depression and increases self-esteem. Pregnant women are advised to do 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, divided into three 50-minute sessions.
Finally, sleep is very important during pregnancy. Studies have shown that women who sleep less than six hours per night during the last month of pregnancy are at greater risk of experiencing complications during childbirth.
Take prenatal classes
It’s normal to have concerns about your pregnancy, the birth, and life with a newborn. Consider signing up for prenatal classes to help mentally prepare. You’ll be able to get all your questions off your chest and discuss your worries and problems with other mothers-to-be.
Ask for help
Whether you’re anxious about how you’ll do as a parent or worried about your baby’s health, remember that you’re not alone. Don’t hesitate to share your feelings with your partner, friends, or family, or with the health care professional monitoring your pregnancy. Voicing your concerns will make you feel better.
Your friends and family can also offer valuable assistance by helping you with chores, running errands, and babysitting your children. It’s important to let people know when you’re struggling and to accept their help.
Is maternal stress bad for the baby?
All expectant mothers worry at some point during their pregnancy. However, high levels of stress in pregnant women may have repercussions on their babies. For example, some studies have shown a link between a mother’s stress and her child’s brain development. Effects have also been observed on the attention span, behaviour, weight, and immune system of children whose mothers are under a lot of stress. For these reasons and more, it’s important to help create a calm, soothing environment for women during pregnancy.
Things to keep in mind
Take time to relax.
Sign up for prenatal classes.
Pay attention to your diet, stay active, and get enough sleep.
Scientific review: Roxanne Piché, nursing adviser, Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic, CHU Sainte-Justine
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: November 2019