Ways to survive stress in pregnancy and positive steps you can take
It is bad for my baby if I’m stressed?
It’s normal to be a bit stressed about the changes that are happening in your life and to your body. If you’re only feeling stressed once in a while, it’s unlikely to cause problems for your baby.
But if you’re stressed and anxious day in, day out, ask your midwife or doctor for help. Extreme, prolonged stress can increase the risk of premature birth and low birth weight. Fortunately, this is unlikely to affect you, even if you’re much stressed. But it makes sense to tackle your worries now, so you can enjoy your pregnancy.
How can I reduce stress during pregnancy?
1. Focus on your baby
It’s good for you and your baby if you can relax, so don’t feel guilty about taking some time to yourself. Whenever you get a chance, just pause for a while and focus on your bump. From about 23 weeks, your baby can hear your voice, so try chatting, singing and reading to your bump. It's a great way to bond with your baby, and may help you to feel more positive about your pregnancy.
2. Get enough rest and sleep
Listen to your body. If you’re feeling exhausted, take a break or a nap, and go to bed early. Sleep is important for anyone’s mental health and it also supports a healthy pregnancy. Try some of our tips on getting a good night’s sleep while you’re pregnant. If you’re already a parent you’ll know that it can be hard to get a break. But you do deserve time to yourself. Ask your partner, a friend or grandparents to look after your child or children for an afternoon and use the time for some rest and relaxation – not doing the chores!
3. Talk about it
If you have worries about your baby’s wellbeing, or a personal problem, you can always turn to your midwife for reassurance. Don’t be afraid to admit how you're truly feeling. If you are honest, you are more likely to get the support you need. Your midwife will have seen it all before, and would rather hear the tiniest of concerns than let you suffer in silence.Talk to your partner too. You may discover that you share similar worries, or that your partner has concerns you didn’t know about. Talking things through can make you both feel better.
Meet other mums-to-be at the same stage of pregnancy as you, perhaps at an antenatal class or an exercise class. It’s likely that at least some of them will be having the same feelings as you.And why not share your concerns with other mums-to-be at the same stage as you, in your BabyCentre Birth Club?
4. Eat well
Eating well is good for your brain, your body and your baby. Make sure you eat regular meals so your blood sugar doesn’t drop, which can leave you feeling tired and irritable. It’s not always easy to eat well if you are not feeling great emotionally, or if you're suffering from pregnancy sickness. But if you can make even some small changes, you will feel better for it. Find out more with our healthy eating tips.
Dehydration can also affect your mood, making you feel more irritable. So make sure you're getting your recommended six to eight 200ml glasses a day.You might miss unwinding with a glass of wine in the evening, but to protect your baby, advice from the Chief Medical Officer is that it’s best to avoid alcohol while you’re pregnant. Try a non-alcoholic cocktail or a warm, milky drink instead.
5. Try gentle exercise
Even if it's the last thing you feel like doing, exercising can lift your spirits any time, including when you’re pregnant. Part of the reason is that it releases feel-good chemicals in your brain.It’s perfectly safe to do many types of exercise during pregnancy. Just avoid contact sports, and check with your midwife before trying anything too strenuous.Swimming is a great option because it keeps you toned, without being too hard on your joints. Find out if there’s an aquanatal class running at your local pool.You could also try some pregnancy yoga. This not only tones and stretches your body, it also teaches you breathing, relaxation and meditation techniques that can help to boost your emotional wellbeing.Try to build exercise into your daily life. Get up and walk around as often as you can, especially if you're stuck at a desk. Pop out at lunchtime for some fresh air, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. Getting closer to nature has benefits too, and a simple walk in the
park can help with stress.
6. Prepare for the birth
Learn more about what happens during labour by signing up for our free online antenatal classes. Knowing what to expect and understanding all your options may help you feel more confident.You can also talk to your midwife about what to expect, and ask as many questions as you want to. Your midwife can help you write a birth plan that sets out your preferences. You can change your mind at any time along the way, too. Keeping a flexible outlook will help you remain calm even if the birth doesn’t work out exactly as you’d imagined.If you're having your baby in hospital or at a birth centre, you may be able to visit the delivery suite beforehand. If a real tour is not an option, ask if there is an online tour. Being familiar with where you're going can help set your mind at rest.If your fear of birth is so overwhelming that you would rather have a caesarean than a vaginal birth, talk to your midwife or doctor. They should offer you support to handle your anxiety, which may include a referral to a trained therapist who can help you work through any issues and feel better about giving birth. You may also find antenatal classes helpful. Ultimately though, it’s up to you how you decide to have your baby.
7. Cope with commuting
Commuting can be a major source of stress, and it gets worse the more heavily pregnant you are.
Unfortunately, the risk assessment that your employer legally has to perform only includes travel that's part of your job (such as making deliveries), not your daily commute. However, if you have an understanding boss, you could try asking if you can avoid rush hours, perhaps starting and finishing earlier than usual. Make sure you always sit down on public transport. If nobody offers you a seat, ask for one. Some train operators offer first-class seats to pregnant season-ticket holders if standard-class carriages are full – visit your train operator's website for details.In London, pregnant women who use the underground are entitled to priority seats and can wear a baby-on-board badge to let other passengers know they need a seat. Don’t feel embarrassed. Most people are more than willing to give up their seats: they just need reminding!
8. Sort out money worries
If you're worried about how you are going to pay for baby clothes and equipment, make a list of the items you need. Could you borrow some of these things from friends or family? You probably won’t have to buy everything on your list. Some things, such as a Moses basket, are only useful for two months or three months. You can also buy many baby items second-hand. Our family finances section has plenty of ideas and you can share money-saving tips in the BabyCentre community.
If you’re worried about money and getting your baby off to a good start, speak to your midwife or get in touch with your local children’s centre. They may know about charities that will give you good-quality used items, such as cots and prams. Find out about any benefits that you are entitled to, such as the Sure Start maternity grant. You might be able to claim benefits even if you're working. And make sure you get your full entitlement of maternity leave and pay.
Find out what support your employer offers by talking to your human resources manager. You can learn more on our rights and benefits pages.
9. Try complementary therapies
Massage is a fantastic way to de-stress. Show your partner our video about how to do a lower back massage and a relaxation massage. Or take matters into your own hands by learning how to give yourself a great foot massage.Many spas and beauty salons provide pregnancy massage treatments, too. Just make sure your therapist is qualified and experienced in working with pregnant women.
There's also a small amount of evidence to suggest that aromatherapy might help to reduce anxiety and help you feel calm and relaxed. See our guide to aromatherapy in pregnancy to learn which oils are safe to use while you're expecting.
10. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness helps you connect with the world around you, moment to moment, so you don't get lost in negative thoughts. It means taking the time to pay full attention to those small moments in life, like feeling the sun on your face or your baby’s kicks.
Recently, health research has started to look at the benefits of mindfulness. Studies are beginning to suggest it can help ease anxiety, stress, worry or depression in mums-to-be.
The following tips can help you be more mindful in your everyday life:
• As you go about your day, pay attention to the sights, sounds, scents and other sensations around you. It can be hard to keep this up at all times, so choose a particular time each day (for example your commute or lunchbreak) to really focus on what you're experiencing.
• If you follow the same routine every day, it's easy to stop noticing the familiar things around you. Try doing something new, such as taking a different route to the shops or sitting in a different place at work.
• Take time each day to pause and pay attention to your thoughts. Allow your mind to drift, and notice how your thoughts come and go. Try to name your thoughts and feelings as they arise, and see if you notice any patterns.
• You could also try mindfulness meditation, focusing on your breathing or the sounds around you. When you notice your mind wandering, gently bring your attention back.
11. Treat yourself
Laughter is one of the body’s best ways of relaxing. So meet up with friends, watch a funny film or box set with someone, or read a feel-good novel.
Pregnancy is also the perfect time to treat yourself to all those beauty treatments you never normally splash out on. If your bump gets too big for you to paint your toenails, have a pedicure. If you’re saving money, create your own mini spa at home. Be nice to yourself. You deserve it.
And if you still feel the stressed please call us 800 100 999 for free online consultation.
Your health is more important to us to get back to your Track.