10 Ways to Deal with Emotional Stress During Pregnancy
Created by Shikha Batra Updated on May 07, 2019
Walk slowly; do not bend down; eat lots of ghee; why don’t you try yoga; you should have coconut water every day; see pictures of beautiful babies; eat for two persons etc. etc….and the list goes on and on. Life does not remain the same, for a woman; from the moment she discloses the ‘good news’ to the time, she reaches the hospital for delivery (and in most cases, this free flow of advice continues to post the delivery as well). These enjoinders, though, given in a true and honest spirit, can sometimes create pressure on the expecting mother.
As it is a pregnant woman is battling with a lot of emotional and identity issues at the time! Picture this: a lady typically, as soon as she conceives, is now looked upon as a to-be mother. All the pampering, the extra care, the attention is given to her, as an expectant mother, though welcome, leaves her wondering, "Is that what it is all about, now?" "Am I now just an expectant mother and not an individual?" Add to that the sudden change in behavior and expectations of the people around her, dealing with her own changing body, the nervousness about being a good parent, and last but not the least, thinking what life (and sometimes her career) would be like after the arrival of a new member can leave the pregnant mother, stressed and a bundle of nerves.
What Are The Common Pregnancy Fears And Worries?
Pregnancy is a very beautiful phase for most women. At some points in those nine months, it can be an on-top-of-the-world and exciting time, and at others it can plunge you in the depths of gloom and despair. Mood swings are common during pregnancy due to all the hormonal changes that are happening in the body. These hormonal changes, in turn, affect the levels and functioning of the neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain) leaving the pregnant woman exposed to a range of emotions and reactions. Every woman has her own threshold of dealing with anxieties and stresses: for some, it is more difficult to cope with the changes and uncertainties that pregnancy brings, while for others the pain of delivery might be giving them jitters. Some of the common worries, shared with me, by some pregnant women include:
- How they will cope with the pressures of bringing up a newborn and a job if working?
- Managing added responsibilities, besides the previous ones
- Changes in relationships with husband, older child if any, and in-laws
- Whether they will be a good parent?
- Fear of health problems which might arise during pregnancy
- Concern whether that newborn will be healthy and normal
- How they will cope with childbirth?
- Lack of family support
- Sex of the child with families where the birth of a boy is preferred over a girl
- Managing extra financial burden
- Preparing older sibling for the arrival of a new member
Can Stress Affect Pregnancy?
Though research is lacking on the subject, there is a very probable co-relation between stress and pregnancy. Some women when stressed tend to eat less or eat junk food, which can significantly hamper a developing baby’s growth pattern. Skipping on meals or having a diet that lacks the necessary nutrition could lead to a weakened immunity which can make the mother prone to infections. Some women react to stress by drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes putting the baby at high risk for birth defects and stillbirths.
Can Stress Cause Miscarriage During Early Pregnancy?
You and your baby are well equipped to handle everyday stresses like work pressures, getting stuck in traffic, a small argument etc. However, situations that warrant high-stress levels can hamper the growth and development of the unborn baby. In 2008, a Danish study of more than 19,000 pregnant women suffering from high levels of psychological stress revealed that they had an 80 percent greater risk of stillbirth than women who had an intermediate level of stress during pregnancy. Some researchers also support the claim that babies born to mother who was highly stressed during pregnancy have higher chances of developing allergies and asthmas. Premature births and stillbirths have also been connected to pregnancy stress, though there is no concrete study on the subject.
10 Ways To Deal With Emotional Stress During Pregnancy
While feeling stressed or anxious about these issues is common during pregnancy, but too much stress can lead to physiological problems such as headaches, loss of appetite or overeating, as well as psychological problems which include lack of sleep, anxiety, mood swings, depression, etc. In extreme cases, these stresses, if not attended to, can complicate the pregnancy resulting in either a miscarriage, or a preterm delivery, or in other ways harm the fetus. Therefore, it becomes essential to lower your anxieties and learn to deal with stress in a positive way. In my experience, here are some techniques that can help pregnant women, relieve stress and feel better:
- Pamper yourself: Modifying your schedule in a manner that there is ‘me time’ in which you are able to do activities such as exercise, socialize, sleep, see a movie, have a massage or do whatever makes you feel good. Make sure you enjoy whatever you do and by no means allow yourself to feel guilty about it
- Give yourself mental growth time: During pregnancy, the mind has many questions regarding the future. Allocating time for reading, thinking, planning about changing roles and new responsibilities not only allows a pregnant woman to come at peace with self but also helps in preparing for the future
- Learning relaxation techniques: If you are feeling tense, anxious, or overtired, simple relaxation techniques such as yoga and stretching, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, exercise etc. can help calm the mind. Go for a walk, watch a funny sitcom, relax your muscles, or just grab some uninterrupted sleep—figure out your own relaxation technique and enjoy it
- Communicate: It is best to confide in your spouse or keep lines of communication open with those you love. Let them know how you are feeling and how they could help .This will lower the anxieties and give a vent to built-up pressure
- Delegate work: Increase in workload is obvious during pregnancy and after delivery. It is advisable to delegate work which you feel will be a burden for you. For eg: if cooking tires you out or leaves you hot and nauseous, hire a cook; or a nanny for an older child. Request family members to adjust accordingly and in fact, contribute in your responsibilities, as much as possible
- Relax your work profile: If you are into professions such as law, medicine, corporate or any other field which demands strenuous work, discuss with your boss your limitations and what you can and cannot reasonably do. By making adjustments in the former rigid schedule, and seeking relaxation you could be comfortable and contribute to the organization to the best of your ability
- Do your homework: Learn as much about pregnancy as you can. Read, talk to friends, exchange notes on a parenting community such as parentune.com, attend classes, and talk to your doctor to learn as much as possible, not only about the biology of pregnancy but also about its emotional implications. By doing so you will be well informed and not taken by surprise by any physiological or psychological changes
- Identify your fears and write them down: The process of specifically identifying thoughts and feelings and putting them in words is an excellent way to deal with what you are experiencing. This, in turn, will help resolve any of those feelings which are the cause of concern. This will also give you a better insight into yourself and help you deal with disturbing thoughts or feelings head-on. Another bonus of this habit is that when you visit your doctor next, you will be able to seek professional counseling on these concerns in a more clear way
- Filter information from various sources: Since you must be dealing with many people and hearing day in, day out, their expert advice on what you should or should not do, be smart to separate myths from facts and follow only those which are coming from a trustworthy source such as your doctor. Do not let these kibitz affect you in any way
- Go for regular checkups with your spouse: It is advisable to visit your doctor on a regular basis with your spouse. You should follow all instructions and take prescribed medications on time as advised by your doctor. Regular visits will keep your anxieties at bay by apprising you about the new developments taking place within your body. This will also avoid any unwarranted health risks to you and the fetus. By keeping your spouse in the loop, he will understand what you are going through and be more eager to pitch in
Pregnancy and stress are inseparable. There are, however, ways that a pregnant woman can cope with it by making small changes in her life. What I have suggested here are some easy, practical tips that can make this phase more simple to handle without taking away the joys of it.
I would request all my readers to pour in with your experiences and suggestions of how to go about dealing with stress during pregnancy. Your suggestions are invaluable for all our readers as well as those who are going through this beautiful phase.
| Jun 24, 2015
Thanks Kanchan Raju Patil for the feedback! To be positive during pregnancy is the best thing one could do as it has a direct impact on yr grwoing fetus . It is advisable to shut yr eyes for few minutes and imagine yr healthy fetus. How he would be growing every cm, how he would look like or how his heart would be beating. Talk to yr unborn child, feel what he/she has to say to u. This will develop a bond between u both. When the child would be born u would notice to yr surprise that the baby recognizes yr voice. All the best and wish u loads of happiness.
| Aug 20, 2015
Hi Simran! Congratulations for being lucky to go through this beautiful phase. it is just a phase, u should get over it soon. It is not unusual to undergo depression during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. Please continue with yr treatment. Try out following strategies : 1. Take a piece of paper and write down yr worries. 2. Now put a tick in front of the problem that can be solved by yr worrying. Are u sure it will be normal delivery if u worry, or u believe yr baby will be healthy if u continue being anxious. U should get the reply. Your worry will surely not help but can definitely put u in a difficult situation. I know this might sound absurd to u and u might just say, worrying is not in yr control. Yes partly true but since medicines are taking control of that part, u need to focus on what u can do best for yr child. 4. The best U can do is remain happy as yr state of mind is directly linked with yr child's health. 5. Have proper meals. Go for check ups on scheduled dates. 6.. Talk to a friend, take support of yr hubby. 7. Feed yr brain with positive msgs. To answer yr query of being alone and having no emotional support plus fear of C-Section. It is quite ok to have c-section even if the situation arise. By 3rd day u will be on yr legs managing everything on yr own. With the only precaution of not bending or lifting heavy weights. I have had two cesarean delievries myself with no support and trust me it was no rocket science. Rather these days elecetive cesarean is the preferred option over normal delivery. Please don't stress yrself with fear of unknown. 6. Imagine yr new born to be in yr lap smiling happily and thanking u for being so strong all this while. Have Faith in God dear everything will be fine.
| Jan 10, 2016
Hey Its my 8th month on n still am not able to convay wd my lovd ones around dat wat i wanna do at wat tym. Der r tyms i wanna sleep rest go out fr a movie call frnds n many more such things dat i wanna do bt fail to xpress it to dm. Please suggst some ways how i can opn up wd dm fr now atleast. Thanks Ria
| Jan 10, 2016
Hi Dhriti Pandey! Congratulations to you! Dhriti if u have the caliber, opportunities might come again. I feel this is the phase to enjoy and cheer about. lucky are those who are blessed by God to play the role assigned by nature. Consider yourself amongst those few chosen ones. Happy parenting Dhriti!
| Jan 11, 2016
Hey Ria! Congrats to u! Correct me if i am wrong I believe it's yr first year of marriage. I appreciate your concerns and understand that u dont want to hurt anyone's sentiments but i believe sharing what u feel might help u open up. it might bring you closer to family members. I would advise you to begin sharing yr feelings with yr husband and let him do the needful. He knows his parents well and would have a fair idea how to present yr thoughts and wishes to them. Enjoy this lovely phase and don't hold yr thoughts. All the best Ria!
| Nov 13, 2019
Hello I am a working woman and used to be workaholic, I am entertaining in my 06 month and I realized the pace of my work life is getting slow and also m managing my job in another city, so not being with family and spouse also stressing me I am trying to manage at my best but sometimes can't control my emotions and feel stressed