Life in the 21st century seems stressful in general, regardless of who you are and what you do. Add pregnancy to the mix and you have a whole new set of stresses on top of the existing ones!|
Besides the physical stresses of pregnancy (nausea, backache, swelling, etc.), many pregnant women also face their own situational stresses, such as work life, finances, and family relationships. Add in all the questions and even fears you might face regarding your pregnancy, and you may really be feeling the pressure.
One of the biggest worries you may have is that all your worrying will affect your pregnancy. Isolated periods of stress that we all experience from time to time do not have a harmful effect on you and your baby. So breathe easy (literally)! According to some studies, more severe, long-term stresses in early pregnancy can increase chances of complications, such as pre-eclampsia and premature birth. But some experts question the validity of these studies. The important message is to seek help and support if you are finding stress interfering with daily living.
If you feel you’re stressed out most of the time, identify the sources of stress in your life. How can you learn effective ways to cope or even change your situation to reduce the stress? A good support network is one of your best bets. Support, of course, can be your partner, extended family, and friends. You may need them for emotional support or even for practical support, like helping with carpool, or helping you make meals to freeze for future easy warm-up dinners. Many women even find great comfort in other pregnant women’s company, such as on Babyfit’s message boards. If you can’t find support at home, you might find reassurance in joining a support group in your area. Ask your health care provider for recommendations or resources. You may be surprised at the relief you find in opening up to others of similar circumstances.
Any woman, pregnant or not, is better able to handle stress if she is healthy and fit. So be sure to follow healthy nutrition guidelines, get plenty of sleep, stay away from alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs, and exercise regularly. If you tend to skip meals when you’re stressed, you absolutely must stop this practice while pregnant. Your growing baby needs constant nutrition. Long fasting periods will only add stress to your body. Eat at least three meals a day plus two healthy snacks, or eat five to six smaller-portioned meals a day.