Stress with pregnancy is one of the most common problems. We tried to help you by addressing this issue with mothers’ experiences.
Joyce Morales always loved children. She and her husband had a beautiful 3-year-old son when she found out she was pregnant again. Though the Ann Arbor, Mich., mother was excited about the new baby, Morales’s second pregnancy was more stressful than her first. In her fifth month, her doctor recommended bed rest. “I had to leave my job and scale back many things I wanted to do for the new baby,” Morales recalls.
Knowing that balancing bed rest with an active toddler was impossible, Morales’s husband asked his mother to help out. “We are polar opposites,” Morales says, adding that she has clashed with her mother-in-law in the past. “I am a neat freak, and she is not. I needed her help, but it was stressful knowing that she was running the house and for several months there was nothing I could do about it.”
You can learn about pregnancy stages and get week by week pregnancy information in our website.
Effects of Stress
Ask any mother and they will tell you that stress with pregnancy is real. Being pregnant is a quite stressful job. For first-time mothers, nine months seems too short a time to change everything about your lifestyle. Even experienced mothers know facing pregnancy means balancing a family with annoyances like morning sickness and an expanding body.
Though mothers-to-be have a variety of reasons to feel stressed, new research indicates that constant or sudden stress may cause premature birth and low birth weight, which both can cause early infant death. Now, doctors and organizations such as the March of Dimes are asking women to find ways to manage stress with pregnancy for the benefit of their baby’s and their own health. And, in recent years, the effects of stress on the body has been the subject of multiple studies. Researchers have learned that individuals who experience sustained stress are more susceptible to illness and disease because their immune system is compromised.
To learn about premature babies : Are You Prepared for a Preemie? A Guide to Premature Babies
For expectant mothers, stress and pregnancy has a double impact on health. Women experiencing ongoing stress weaken an immune system that is already over-extended by pregnancy. Stress triggers the corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH), a chemical that prompts labor. Although CRHs occur naturally in the placenta during the third trimester, enduring regular or sudden stress produces more of the hormone. According to a study completed at a university, if too much CRH is produced, it may kickstart a preterm labor.
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How to Know It Is Too Much?
While stress and pregnancy is harmful together, knowing how much is too much for pregnant women can be difficult to gauge, says Jerome M., OB/GYN expert. Everyone handles stress differently. Leaving a fast-paced job to stay at home, for example, may be more stressful for an expectant mother because of the amount of work she will have when she returns.
With so much happening in their lives, many pregnant women don’t realize stress with pregnancy is affecting them. Fatigue, anxiety and mental confusion are symptoms of stress that many women attribute to pregnancy symptoms. Doctors recommend a few activities to combat it on a daily basis so that stress never becomes too much to handle.
Check our another article about pregnancy symptoms : First Time Pregnancy: Important Symptoms
The first step is to be realistic about your schedule and your priorities. Many expectant mothers overestimate what they will be able to do. When Yvonne Young first became pregnant, she planned to work full time at her San Francisco Bay-area job until the last month of her pregnancy. Then she got morning sickness. “I had it all day and through my seventh month,” recalls Young. “Luckily, I had a great boss, so I went in late and left early.”
Many rumors exist about exercising during pregnancy. Naturally, many expectant mothers shy away from it. Few women realize, however, that exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress. While high-impact exercise and rough sports should obviously be avoided, there are a variety of activities, such as swimming, yoga and spinning, that not only reduce stress with pregnancy but ease back pain, improve both you and your baby’s health and make you feel better.
If you like getting in the water, many organizations offer aquatic classes for expectant mothers. “Aquatic exercise is great, because when you’re in the water, your stress for pregnancy that affects the body, bones and joints isn’t there,” says Mindy M., a aquatics instructor. “As your body changes, the less stress you have on it, the better off you will be.” Mindy says you can find an aquatic version of many popular exercises such as aqua yoga, aqua kick-boxing and aqua jogging.
Even if you can’t attend a class, you can still find simple, non-strenuous ways to exercise. A variety of prenatal exercise books and videos are available. Even simple activities, such as taking a daily short walk outside, are good ways to beat stress. No matter what activity you choose, however, make sure you discuss it with your doctor first.
Caring for Yourself
Another way to beat stress for pregnancy is to make time to baby yourself. Even if you have a lot of work to do, putting aside a few moments for yourself is an excellent way to beat stress. Knowing that in a few months she wouldn’t be getting any sleep, Morales supplemented her day with naps. “I pretty much slept the rest of the time,” she says. “Seriously, I slept every possible moment.”
Getting a prenatal massage can also beat stress. Not only can it relieve aching back muscles, legs and other extremities but massage therapists claim it improves circulation and may help you sleep better. If you can’t find a massage therapist in your area, a warm (not hot) bath is another way to ease sore leg and back muscles.
And don’t forget to support your support network, too. You should also make time for your partner, family and friends. With your partner, do something you both love to do, such as having a romantic dinner or going to see a movie.
If you’re still busy, have your family or friends go shopping with you to pick out things for the baby or join you on a walk. Though she was confined to bed rest, Morales took an evening to go over to a friend’s house to spend time with her old co-workers. “We all sat in chairs around a table and talked,” she says. “It was really nice to get out of the house and see them all again.”
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A Pleasant Future
If stress with pregnancy persists in your life, focus on the future. When she was pregnant with her first child, Deborah Hines learned that she had a heart condition. Her doctor warned her there was a possibility that she might die during delivery. Both Hines and her husband were floored.
Also, if you want to learn about stress before pregnancy : Stress Before Pregnancy: Causes and Solutions
Hines, an educator and author, pushed all the bad news aside and thought about her baby. She saw herself rocking the baby to sleep, waking up in the night and changing diapers. “I focused on the baby and a more positive future,” she says. “I enlisted the support of friends and family and took as much time as I could to read, relax, enjoy life and enjoy my pregnancy.”
Although Hines recalls the delivery as being quite traumatic, she and her baby were fine. “I have a very laid-back baby,” she says. While Hines also recommends eating well and exercising as good ways to beat stress, “I think the key is to focus on the future as positively as you can and not to think about stress with pregnancy at all.” she says.
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The names of the people mentioned in the article have been changed for security reasons and to protect privacy.