6 Techniques for Reducing Stress During Pregnancy

It’s quite natural for most people to experience some level of anxiety daily. However, soon-to-be parents tend to grapple with additional concerns that could induce stress, enough to make even the calmest individual lose sleep at night. One might even wonder in trepidation, “Seriously, where will this baby come out?” In such situations, certain techniques for reducing stress during pregnancy can become invaluable tools for expecting parents.

You know that stress is bad for your physical and mental health and could hurt your baby. Some studies have shown that high levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the mother may cause shorter pregnancies and preeclampsia and may even affect the baby’s development.

So, we can’t do anything about your never-ending list of things to do or your boss who never lets up, but there are good ways to deal with them. In fact, often, all it takes to get rid of stress is a few deep breaths. Here, experts talk about the best ways to handle difficult scenarios.

1. Even though it’s only 8:45 a.m., you’re already feeling stressed.

Brain going a thousand miles an hour? Take a 5-minute break.

Sara Trapani, a Registered Yoga Teacher at Bard College and the Omega Institute says that you should learn to recognize the moment when your worry becomes too much and then bring your attention to your breath. Observing the ins and outs of your nasal breathing will do the trick. Do five deep breaths with your eyes closed. Notice how your chest moves up and down as you breathe, and let your face and neck loosen up. You can do this anywhere and at any time. It will calm your nervous system and give you a sense of being rooted and in control right away.

2. You’re late, and now you’re stuck in traffic.

Trapani says, “This is the perfect time to practice letting go.” You can’t change the traffic and probably can’t get out of it either. Realize that getting stressed and angry won’t improve or change the situation.

First, put on a CD or radio program with music that makes you feel good. Then stop for a moment and feel how your hands feel on the wheel. Now, inhale deeply with your nose and exhale slowly and sighingly through your mouth. Aaaah. Or, as you breathe in, pull your shoulders up to your ears and say, “It’s okay” to yourself. When you let out your breath, drop your shoulders and tell yourself, “Let it go!”

You can also imagine taking in good, light energy and letting go of all your stressful energy as you exhale. At least five times do this practice. Now, give up and let things happen as they will.

3. Work is crazy, and your boss makes you crazy.

Kim Watters, Fitness Manager at Red Mountain Resort in Utah, says that taking just a few minutes to do deep breathing and light stretching during a busy day will help clear your mind so that you can organize your thoughts. Here are her three favorite ways to stretch at work. Each one should be held for at least 20 seconds.

Sit near the front edge of your work chair to stretch your abs and sides. Stretch your arms up and out as far as you can. Now, reach up with your right hand to lengthen your right side while pressing down with your left heel. Change your hands and do it again on the other side.

Stretch your neck by sitting at the front edge of your chair. Raise your shoulders and push down with your hands. Do it several times. Then roll them back, up, forward, and down. Do it several times. To the right, as far as you can turn your head. And now, repeat that to the left. Make a right head tilt, then a left one, and repeat. Lastly, tilt your head down and pull your chin toward your chest.

Place your feet slightly farther apart than your hips and lean forward in your chair. A back stretch, if you will. Put your head in between your knees and lean forward from the hips.

4. You can’t zip up your jeans.

It’s never a good way to start the day when a pregnant woman discovers that an item of clothing she wore the day before no longer fits.

“Give yourself some love,” says Trapani. Place both hands on your chest when you are sitting or lying down. Feel the warmth of your hands as a part of your body. Send your breath into your hands and picture warmth filling your chest. Remind yourself of your positive qualities, such as “You are healthy” and “You are strong.” It is possible to change the bad things you feel.

Remember that the best things you can do for yourself and your baby are to eat well and get light to moderate exercise. Watters says meditation will help you be more in touch with what feels right. Go to a yoga class, listen to your favorite music, meet up with a friend, or have a date night with your partner.

Now put on your stretchy pants, dress nicely, and get on with your day.

5. Before your baby comes, you have a million things to do.

Marci Howard-May, Spa Services Manager at Red Mountain Resort, says meditation may help you figure out what needs to be done before the baby comes and what can wait. If you can let go of the worries plaguing your mind, you’ll be able to tackle one item at a time on your to-do list. Even though the crib, car seat, and stroller are important before the baby comes, the rest of the nursery doesn’t have to be perfect yet.

Trapani says to do a short meditation to calm down, then grab a pencil and write down what you think are the most important things you need to do. Stay calm and make a clear plan for how to finish the job that will make you feel the most relieved when it’s done.

Howard-May says that taking those few minutes to breathe, focus, and relax can make you feel less overwhelmed and more effective.

6. You’re worried about work.

First, remember that every pregnant woman is scared about giving birth, whether they say so or not. Watters recommends the following technique to help you get in touch with your body:

Sit down or lie on your side in an easy position. Tense up one part of your body for two to three seconds, and then let it go. From your toes to your face, tense and rest each part of your body.

This will be very helpful when you’re in labor because it will teach you how to relax all body parts, save energy, and make it easier to give birth. You can also use breathing techniques to help you focus and calm down. When you feel anxious, it can be very helpful, comforting, and relaxing to picture a smooth and easy delivery.

Here are some more ways to calm yourself down in any situation:

Create a mantra. Mantras are easy phrases that you can say to yourself to change a self-defeating belief and feel less stressed. Trapani says that when you feel anxious, you should find a phrase that you can say to yourself at any time. Make a positive statement like, “I’m ready to take care of my baby in every way.” When you feel anxious, repeat your phrase to yourself over and over in your head.

Try lavender essential oil. Put a drop on your wrist and keep the rest in your bag. When you’re feeling worried, rub your wrists and hands together and massage the back of your neck and the tops of your shoulders.

Drink peppermint tea. It can help calm nerves and settle an upset stomach.

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