It's absolutely normal to experience some kind of stress during pregnancy; after all, stress is a regular part of life. The hormonal, physical and emotional changes that come with pregnancy certainly trigger stress in even the most laid-back women. The secret is coping with stress effectively, so you can get past it and even enjoy your pregnancy. Here are 10 strategies for dealing with stress:
1. Eat Well
Eating a proper balanced diet will help ensure your physical health as well as the baby's; small meals eaten throughout the day will help regulate your blood sugar (and your moods).
Getting off the couch may be the very last thing you want to do, but the endorphin rush you get from moderate exercise will make you feel much better. Consult with your doctor before beginning an exercise routine.
3. Get Some Sleep
It's common to experience some insomnia during pregnancy, but getting adequate rest is essential to your well-being. Taking a warm bath before bed, and using a body pillow to help get in a comfortable position will help you rest easier.
Learn different forms of relaxation that might help you in stressful situations. Prenatal yoga is beneficial to both you and the baby; breathing exercises can calm you down; meditation and visualization can help reduce stress.
5. Talk It Out
Keep talking to someone who understands what you're going through: your spouse, a friend, a family member. Sometimes talking things over is all you need to put things in perspective. Or, if you would rather confide in a journal, spend a few minutes writing every day.
6. Find a Support Network
Try to find a network of stay-at-home or work-at-home moms in your community. These women can be a rich resource of support, and can help with pregnancy and parenting tips and advice. Plus, you may have a built-in playgroup once your baby arrives!
7. Pamper Yourself
Take time to pamper yourself during your pregnancy; it will make you feel beautiful. Go for pedicures (especially after you can no longer touch your toes!), buy some cute maternity outfits or indulge in a prenatal massage.
8. Slow Down
You may be one of those women who feel like Superwoman when pregnant--but it's important to slow down. If you are feeling stressed, take on less work, say no to volunteer activities and make time for rest and relaxation. You shouldn't feel like you need to tackle the world.
If you feel like the world rests on your shoulders, prioritize what must be done--in the next week, month, year, whatever. Decide what tasks you can reasonably take on and either get help with the rest--or let them go entirely.
10. Enjoy the Ride
Pregnancy is an awe-inspiring experience. Don't let stress rob you of the joy and wonder of this part of your life. Take the time to savor every moment you possibly can.
Stress in an unavoidable part of every stage of life; but with these tips, you can successfully manage stress during pregnancy, and even enjoy the ride!______________________________
Sarah Baker is a documentary filmmaker and writer currently living in New Bern, NC. Her first book, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, will be published December 2009. Read more about her.