Your doctor and other mothers have probably told you that it is normal to experience a certain level of stress during pregnancy. First of all, hormonal changes through the different pregnancy stages play a big part in your physical, mental, and emotional state. This is inevitable. On the other hand, the physical strain, together with the very idea of giving birth, caring for another human being, as well as changing your lifestyle during and after the pregnancy can also create a huge impact, whether you are a first-time mom or already have other kids. A certain amount of anxiety during pregnancy may be interpreted as a healthy and natural response. This can push you to be more alert and proactive in caring for your own health and preparing for the baby’s arrival. However, it is important to avoid too much stress during pregnancy.
The connection that you and your baby have goes beyond mere nutrient transfer. Research has shown that a baby in the womb reacts to the physiological effects that stress has on the mother. When a mother feels anxiety during pregnancy, her body releases stress hormones and blood pressure rises. Babies who are exposed to this environment have a greater chance of being born preterm or with a low birth weight, which may then lead to a host of other health issues later on. Furthermore, studies suggest that mothers who experienced chronic stress during pregnancy are more prone to having babies who are more irritable or have issues with brain development.
It is therefore important that expecting mothers take their mental and emotional health just as seriously as their physical health. If you are pregnant, it is a good idea to cut back on activities and responsibilities, as well as get sufficient sleep. While this may seem a bit selfish at first, remember that it is not. You are simply making your pregnancy more manageable for yourself and your baby. Make sure that you are well-nourished so that you have enough strength and energy, and cut back on empty calories, caffeine, and sugary food as these can wreak havoc on your mood and energy levels.
Another way you can manage anxiety during pregnancy is by being prepared and getting the information you need. Knowing what to expect during all the pregnancy stages takes out a lot of the second-guessing and panic that may otherwise arise. You can take birth classes, read books, or consult mothers you trust and admire to help you along. Involve your partner and keep the lines of communication open, so that you can share your thoughts about living with a baby. You can also surround yourself with a network of family members and friends who can offer their support all throughout your experience.
Lastly, it’s a good idea to engage in activities that reduce stress such as meditation, pregnancy yoga, or other forms of light exercise. These can help reduce stress during pregnancy and turn your experience into the most pleasant and meaningful one that it can be.