Reducing Stress During Pregnancy

by Laurel Wilson and Tracy Wilson Peters

Every expectant mother experiences stress at times throughout her pregnancy. This is a normal part of pregnancy and, in fact, even prepares your little one for his journey into your arms. However, there are times when regular every day stress can move into overdrive. Especially when mothers see their To Do lists getting longer instead of shorter. There are so many things they want to accomplish before the baby arrives and it seems as though there is so little time. Stress reduction should be at the top of the To Do list! Start with simple things that are scientifically proven to reduce stress:

Smile.

Schedule time to do activities that increase your joy. Hang out with girlfriends who make you laugh. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good.

Yawn.

Repetitive yawning actually helps reset the brain and allows you to refocus.

Meditate or Pray.

This can be accomplished in many ways. You can simply find a quiet space, close your eyes and think about the people and things in your life that you have gratitude for. You can also participate in activities that help you to feel calm and centered, like walking in nature, gardening or swimming.

Move Your Body.

Movement is one of the best ways to remove stress from your body. Take a walk. Go swimming (also great to line your baby up for birth). Take a belly dance class. Try prenatal yoga.

Practice Deep Breathing Techniques.

Slow your breathing. Try and count to four while you inhale and count to eight as you exhale. Do this for several minutes when you feel stressed.

Slow your breathing.

Try and count to four while you inhale and count to eight as you exhale. Do this for several minutes when you feel stressed.

Take a Daily Nap.

Yes, it’s true, you should lie down. Cuddle with your partner, your dog or your teddy bear. Napping for just 15 minutes a day has direct health benefits and reduces stress levels immensely!

– Laurel Wilson and Tracy Wilson Peters are the co-authors of The Greatest Pregnancy Ever: Keys to the MotherBaby Bond (Lotus Life Press, $19.95). They can be reached at: info@thegreatestpregnancyever.com

Chronic stress is one of the leading causes of illness in pregnancy, pre-term delivery, and challenges with a newborn baby. Below are just a few things that stress does to a body preparing for pregnancy:

✽ Reduces supportive pregnancy hormones
✽ Increases stress hormones
✽ Reduces ovulation and interest in sexual activity
✽ Affect and even prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg
✽ Reduces overall egg quality
✽ Delays the release of eggs

Reducing your stress levels can positively impact your pregnancy and your baby. Here are just a few ways lowering your stress can benefit you:

✽ Healthier sex drive and fertility (important if you are trying to conceive)
✽ Reduced risk of pre-term birth
✽ Reduced risk of baby born small for gestational age
✽ Reduced risk of depression in the mother
✽ Developing a mature hippocampus in your baby (the emotional hub of the brain, which regulates hormones)
✽ Increased cognitive scores for your infant
✽ Normal stress threshold for your baby (babies become stressed less often)
✽ Reduced risk of your baby’s brain becoming habituated, to stress hormones like ACTH and cortisol, which makes her feel unsafe and scared
✽ Reduced risk of neurodevelopmental disorders (such as autism and schizophrenia)
✽ Higher IQ
✽ Decreased behavioral problems in childhood and adolescence