Pregnancy is an intense experience for everyone. It puts new demands on your body and your mind. The constant physical and emotional change can be taxing. Pregnancy can compromise your ability to cope at your work, nurture your relationship, or take care of your child.
While pregnant, you likely have little or no time to take care of yourself. According to research, 64% of pregnant women report being more stressed during pregnancy than before they became pregnant.
Pregnancy is taxing on the body and mind
There are normal and expected physical and emotional changes that can contribute to an overall sense of stress during pregnancy. These changes are:
- Overall discomfort, lack of energy, frequent urination, body swelling, back ache, and lack of sleep
- Overall sense of vulnerability and emotional ups and downs due to hormonal changes
- Anticipatory fears of giving birth, the health of the baby, and one’s ability to be a good parent
Negative Effects of Stress on Pregnancy
Stress is not only unpleasant to you as an expectant mother, but it can affect the baby and cause premature birth and low birth weight.
Are You Stressed Out?
If you answer yes to any of the questions below, you may be under a great deal of stress.
- Do you feel tense most the time?
- Do you feel down and hopeless a lot of the time?
- Do you feel overwhelmed on most days?
- Do you have fears about losing your baby?
- Do you feel frightened about labor and delivery?
- Do you feel alone and unsupported in your relationship with your partner?
Who is at risk for experiencing stress during pregnancy?
You may be at risk for high stress during pregnancy if you have experienced the following previously:
- Pregnancy loss
- Relationship problems
- Recent move to a new town
- Sexual abuse
- Anxiety before or during pregnancy
- Depression before or during pregnancy
If any of the above experiences are wearing you out or bringing you down, there are ways to deal with them. Here are some ideas that can help you take care of yourself:
- Identify Sources of Stress
Examine the possible causes of stress in your family or at work. Having an understanding of the problem can be 90% of the solution.
- Slow Down
Your body is working extra hard to support the new life. It is normal to be tired and to have less energy than you used to. Remember this is only a temporary condition. It will get better.
- Let Go of Control
Don’t expect to be in control of how your pregnancy will go and what will happen. Fixed expectations can lead to stress and disappointment if things don’t go according to your plan.
- Take Care of Yourself
Pregnancy can certainly be physically and emotionally draining, so eat well, sleep and engage in gentle exercise. Seek relaxation when you are tired. Find a yoga class for pregnant women.
- Ignore Unsolicited Advice
As a pregnant woman, you’ll receive lots of advice. People will try to tell you what you should do and how to behave. This can cause stress by making you feel you are not doing enough for your unborn baby. It can cause you to feel that that you are already “not a good mom.” Let go of these comments. Take only the advice that is useful to you and/or politely advise people that you have all the advice you need.
- Don’t Fret About Your Weight
Forget about your changing figure. You are now beautiful in a different way. This weight gain is for a special reason and is temporary.
- Gather Support
Surround yourself with people you can share your feelings with. Stay in touch with your partner and have regular dates with your girlfriends. Studies show that a good support network reduces women’s risk of having a low-birth weight baby. If you are pregnant and on your own, find people that can offer support and share excitement about your baby. Delegate highly physically demanding tasks like housecleaning and childcare.
- Drop the Goal of Perfection
It is not possible to be perfect at everything. It is not even an emotionally healthy goal. Get comfortable with a little mess in your house, unfinished tasks at work, and an imperfect life.
- Seek Professional Help
If your pre-pregnancy anxiety and depression is getting is hard to manage, don’t wait, seek professional help. A therapist with experience working with pregnancy related issues will provide necessary support and help you work through anxieties. You will ease your worries and enjoy your pregnancy more.
Just because you are pregnant doesn’t mean you have to suffer. You have the right to feel better ,not only for yourself, but also for your baby.
Call Dr. Irena for FREE 10-minute phone consultation at (281)267-1742.