Tips to Manage Stress During Pregnancy to Thrive
Ah stress! I think “stress” should be a four-letter word, don’t you? The word “stress” naturally has it’s own negative connotation but doesn’t always have. Before we dive in, let’s all take a deep breath, and say “I’m doing the best I can, just for today”. I feel a little better already! We need to repeat this often, and especially while carrying baby because stress during pregnancy is not an uncommon situation.
I’m 27 weeks pregnant as I write this, and I had an Ah-ha! moment I wanted to share – it’s natural to be stressed, especially during pregnancy. Yes, you heard right. That realization really helped me let go of unrealistic expectations and practice acceptance. Now, of course, I come back to that magic word…balance. While some stress is completely expected, I must consider all my healthy living tools, as well as search for a few new ones to keep the stress to a minimum, or in other words, to keep the stress balanced.
Finding Balance with Stress During Pregnancy
Once the physical discomfort of my first trimester began to subside, I realized that it had taken most of my energy to just get through the day and keep up with daily work and home needs, with little space left. But then the second-trimester energy hit! Woohooo! Except that now all that energy sometimes goes rogue and leads me down a path to be more stressed and overwhelmed by it. So many decisions as a first-time parent: Which classes do I take? Do I prefer a doctor or midwife? Which one is better? What is the birth plan? Do I need a doula? What do I add to the perfect registry?
I am again reminded of the divine plan that thankfully designed pregnancy to be 9 months because there is so much to do. Those precious months to develop 10 fingers and 10 toes, and for my husband and me to prepare our lives for this new journey, which is so much more than finding the perfect shade of blue for the nursery. So, I have a choice: where will I allow my thoughts (borderline obsessive at times) to take me? This simple mantra helps me keep my nesting energy and decision making in balance: “Is this coming from a place of love, or fear? Is it a biggie or a smallie”?
Bedtime Practices to Calm the Brain and Body
Sleep is beginning to be a challenge, which sets off that hamster wheel of spinning thoughts, and unsteady emotions (like the hormones aren’t challenging enough)! Here are my favorite nighttime practices that really help to turn down my brain and calm my body:
- Crochet. Choose a simple pattern and make a blanket for the baby (thank you Pinterest and YouTube) Breathe words of affirmation and love into each stitch. After about 15-20 minutes of that calming motion, I can fall asleep peacefully.
- Legs up the wall. Practice this restorative pose in bed with your legs up on the headframe. Here is a bedtime yoga practice for you. Please be sure to only twist very gently. Use a pillow as suggested here on our T5 Wellness Plan website (see bedtime yoga at the bottom of this link).
- Talk to Baby. Especially as he or she begins to recognize your voice. How precious is that!
- Journal. Get any worries out of your mind and onto paper. Unhealthy thoughts are much less powerful outside of your own head.
- Consider the bedroom to be a tech-free zone. This also allows time for you to connect with your partner.
- Read something non-baby related, something that allows your mind to get out of that “to-do list” mode.
- Take a bath. I recently started doing this to help the nighttime leg cramps, and it really helps!
Lack of sleep is a huge trigger for many health issues, including stress during pregnancy, so hopefully adopting these tips can help you feel like you’re more prepared for your day.
Daytime Tips to Reduce Stress During Pregnancy
- Preload in the morning. Take time before all the busy-ness begins to just sit quietly and breath. Even if it’s 5 minutes. I call this my “five-minute miracle”.
- If you have a spiritual practice then read from your favorite devotional, inviting in the support of a Power greater than yourself to guide your day.
- Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day (grazing) to help keep your blood sugar level and energy steady. Watch the refined sugar, as this can add to any depressive thoughts/feelings
- Share with a few friends. Not too many! While your loved ones mean well, sometimes too many opinions can send you spinning. Choose a few friends/family members that you really trust, and don’t be afraid to share those scary thoughts and feelings. They’ve got your back!
- Move! Dr. Sears teaches that movement is medicine for the mind and body. Do your best to practice some sort of movement every day. It’s proven to release the happy hormone called serotine to combat stress. But beware of rigorous activity, especially if you weren’t used to working out pre-pregnancy. Over-exercising can actually cause more stress on the system, leaving you tired and prone to other unhealthy habits like overeating.
- Stay in “today”. This can certainly be a challenge, as there are so many important events/decisions coming down the road. I’ve learned (usually the hard way), that when my thoughts aren’t in the present moment I don’t get things done. And 9 times out of 10, the thing I’m putting unnecessary mental energy into ends up changing by the time it comes to making that decision. Providing space in the mind creates clarity.
- Allow your partner to have a separate process. Practice detaching with love, trusting that your partner is also finding tools that work.
- Be of service to other moms or people in your life that need some support. This helps me stay in gratitude
My mantra for this month: Is it a biggie or a smallie? Remember, when you’re looking into your little angel’s eyes will you really care what shade of blue or pink the nursery is? It’s not worth the stress during pregnancy.
May your pregnancy journey bring you love, joy, and peace.
Cheers to health!
Coach Erin Sears Basile