to Handle Pregnancy Stress:
Creating the Healthiest Environment for Baby to Grow
By Christie Hadley
is the spice of life." One has to wonder if Dr. Hans Selye,
the famous stress researcher, had ever met a pregnant woman when
he said that. The physical and emotional changes an expectant mother
experiences, coupled with worries over finances, family relationships
and work life, can greatly increase the pressure a woman feels.
The problem is, new studies suggest extreme stress during pregnancy
can lead to complications.
to the March of Dimes, a high level of stress which continues for
a long period of time may lead to premature birth, low birth weight,
and preeclampsia. A recent study conducted at the Catholic University
of Leuven, Belgium found a connection between maternal anxiety during
the second trimester and a heightened risk of a child developing
hyperactivity, acting out behavior problems and their own anxiety
is unlikely to cause problems for most pregnant women, just as long
as it is managed properly," said Rachel Von Nida, Editor-in-chief
for BabyFit.com and mother of two. "A mom-to-be should always
talk to her doctor if she feels overwhelmed by worries because stress
is a concern if it builds up to uncomfortable levels. The good news
is, there are easy steps you can take to alleviate stress before
it becomes unsafe."
Nida suggests the following steps to help manage the extra stresses
Exercise: Moderate exercise helps pregnant moms relieve stress in
a physical way, distracting the mind from worries and tiring the
body for a better night's sleep (verses staying awake all night
worrying). It also helps prevent common pregnancy discomforts like
back aches, fatigue and constipation. There are certain precautions
and modifications a pregnant woman needs to take into consideration
when exercising. Many resources are available to help with those
modifications including books like Fit Pregnancy for Dummies, websites
such as BabyFit.com and magazines like Fit Pregnancy.
Connect with other moms and moms-to-be: Talking to other moms can
help give perspective on your concerns and reassurance that you
are not crazy or alone. Other moms can also help answer the questions
your afraid to ask. Some studies suggest that having good support
may reduce the risk of preterm labor and low birth weight, especially
for women who are feeling stressed.
Journaling: Writing down hopes and dreams as well as concerns can
help expectant moms reflect, gain perspective and problem-solve.
For many people, the act of writing down their problems actually
helps transfer some anxiety from heart/mind to pen and paper.
Nutrition: Sometimes people who are under stress skip meals. It
is of utmost importance that a pregnant woman does not do this.
The growing baby needs constant nutrition and long fasts can actually
put more stress on the body. Shoot for three meals a day plus at
least two healthy snacks, or eat mini-meals five or six times a
day. Balance protein and complex carbs.
Relax: The March of Dimes suggests taking 20-30 minutes each day
to practice relaxation techniques. There are many books available
on this topic, but women who have never practiced the techniques
before might need some instruction from an expert. Childbirth classes
teach some techniques that can also be utilized during labor.
Knowing is half the battle. Each pregnant woman should identify
the personal and work-related sources of stress in her life and
develop a game plan to deal with them. What do pregnant women stress
about the most? A recent BabyFit.com poll discovered that the most
common stressor for moms-to-be is how their life will change after
the baby. Leslie, a current BabyFit.com member from Weirton, WV
put it best in a recent post to the BabyFit.com message boards when
she said, "The first time was the fear of the unknown. The
second time it was the fear of the known."
Realizing what you have control over, and letting go of what you
don't will make a big difference in managing stress both before
and after the baby arrives.
BabyFit.com is the only online fitness and nutrition planner for
pregnant women, offering tools and information to help them have
the healthiest pregnancy possible. Unlike the many general information
baby sites, BabyFit.com is the only internet resource that focuses
solely on the health and wellness of mother and baby during pregnancy
- providing a customized nutrition and fitness program along with
expert guidance and a supportive community. Website: http://www.babyfit.com
The information presented on this site is intended
solely as a general educational aid, and is neither medical nor
healthcare advice for any individual problem, nor a substitute for
medical or other professional advice and services from a qualified
healthcare provider familiar with your unique circumstances. Always
seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare
professional regarding any medical condition and before starting
any new treatment