Everyday life can bring on many different forms of stress, but being pregnant can bring a new level of feeling completely overwhelmed. Maybe you’re a first-time mom or have two little ones running around to keep up with. No matter the situation, stress during pregnancy is sure to creep up for many of us, and you may worry about how stress affects pregnancy.
I’m going to dish out all the details you need to know about how stress affects pregnancy and then share three tips any pregnant momma can implement to feel calmer.
How Stress Affects Pregnancy
It’s natural for us mommas to worry about how stress affects pregnancy and our growing babies. We must limit or altogether avoid many things to protect our growing babies. Stress is one of them, but how worried do you need to be? Do you need to stress over the fact that you are stressed out with work? Likely not.
Here’s what you need to know about stress and pregnancy.
- The March of Dimes claims that stress during pregnancy is pretty common, but too much stress can make you feel uncomfortable.1 It can lead to difficulty sleeping, headaches, and changes in appetite. This is not what we want when we’re already tossing and turning, trying to find a comfortable sleeping position at night!
- It’s very high levels of stress you want to watch out for. Chronic high-stress levels can lead to high blood pressure, which does not mix well with pregnancy.2,3,4,6
- It’s the severe type of stress that can lead to complications.5,6 We’re talking divorce, a death in the family, catastrophic events, and losing your job, which can cause financial stress and chronic stress from things like depression or long-term financial issues.
- It’s also important to know that stress is normal and that not all stress is bad for you.7,8 A certain level of stress can actually help you push through a specific challenge you may be facing. The trick is to practice self-care to bounce back from the stressor once things calm down.
- Pregnant moms should also know that several different things may cause their feelings of stress to heighten. Remember that your hormones are changing like crazy! This can make you feel a little out of whack and more stressed. Know that this is normal. Feeling uncomfortable during pregnancy can also make you feel more stressed out, and you may even be stressed about labor and then bringing baby home. Pregnancy can bring out all kinds of stress, and these stressors can be managed. Remember that it’s the long-term stress we need to be worried about.1
Just know that you are doing a great job, momma! Feeling stressed is very common when pregnant, so don’t beat yourself up over it. Instead, take the steps necessary to bring as much calm into your life as possible. You don’t want stress to make you feel more uncomfortable than you already may be.
Here are three tips to help you feel calmer throughout your pregnancy.
#1 Learn How to Say No and Ask for Help
Being a mom is hard, and being pregnant can be difficult too! For some moms, it may be hard to say no or ask someone for help, but it can make a huge difference in your stress levels. If you tend to over-commit, consider your commitments and see what you can take off your plate. There is no better time than now to learn to say no and take care of yourself! You and your baby depend on it.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It takes a village to raise a family, so start asking for help during pregnancy when needed. Think of creative ways to take some burden off of you to reduce stress. Not only will this help you now, but it will help you when the baby arrives. If you don’t have a village, learn how to hire one.
#2 Set Aside “You Time” Each Day
Each day, whether in the morning or before you go to bed, set aside some time just for you. Do something that relaxes you. Maybe it’s pressing play on an online prenatal yoga video or putting in your headphones and listening to a guided meditation. For others, it may be reading a book. Do something each day for yourself that you can look forward to and that will help you feel more relaxed.
During pregnancy is the time to prioritize sleep. Your body is growing a human being, and that’s a lot of work! When you get a good night’s sleep, it is much easier to feel calmer and more centered. Being overtired is a recipe for disaster when it comes to how you handle stress. Try to get to bed before 10 PM each night and get a solid eight hours of sleep if possible. You will thank yourself for catching up on the z’s once baby is here.
Remember that stress is normal, and the stressors you may be dealing with may be temporary. However, it is also important to know that chronic stress levels are not healthy for you or your baby, so speak with your physician if you think stress may be affecting your pregnancy.
Take care of yourself, and implement the steps needed to reduce stress and have a calm and healthy pregnancy.