It’s normal to feel stressed during pregnancy. There are so many things that can make us feel overwhelmed. Anything that puts high demands on a person can be considered a stressor, and pregnancy is no exception.
At the point of writing this, we are facing additional stresses of a different kind, battling through a pandemic and national lockdown, which can only heighten tension and anxiety during an already stressful time.
Many of our patients have also already experienced the stress of undergoing fertility treatment during COVID-19, or the heartbreak of failed previous pregnancies, or IVF cycles and becoming pregnant can bring with it new stress and worry of a different type. Who can fault them?
Constant feelings of stress and worry can colour the whole experience of pregnancy negatively, and if left unchecked, cause concerns for the baby and the mother’s health. If you are experiencing this kind of stress, we suggest you visit your GP as soon as possible.
The stress we are concerned with managing, is the kind that takes away from the joy of pregnancy. This is, after all, a time like no other, so why not make it worth remembering, even during these different times?
Stress can be used by our minds as a way of signalling when something in our lifestyle needs to change or that we’ve taken on too much, so it’s normal to be stressed while pregnant. The key is to take stock and manage it before it turns into an endless cycle of worry.
For these milder forms of stress and keeping a cycle of worry and negative thinking at bay, we have a few useful suggestions to hopefully make your pregnancy a less stressful and more enjoyable experience.
What causes stress during pregnancy?
Sometimes, there isn’t any one thing that causes stress during pregnancy. But most of the time stress and worries are related to very real things, often the same things that worry us when we’re not pregnant, such as a lack of time and money. Anyone who’s been through a pregnancy knows that a new born baby will stretch these resources even further.
The trick is to prepare as much as you can for the arrival of the baby by making changes and preparing where you can. Where you can’t change things, trying to change your thought processes to see things more positively, or at least see the silver lining in negatives, can help you to avoid negative spirals.
Sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery, which we know isn’t easy right now, or a bit of self-care to be able to turn negative thoughts around. Small things like making time for ourselves or budgeting can alter our perception of a situation enough to turn it from a negative experience to something more positive.
How to relieve stress during pregnancy
Most of what we suggest here are relaxation techniques, punctuated by preparatory steps that will give you some peace of mind during pregnancy.
Take time out to focus on yourself and your baby
Your body will be making significant changes to accommodate your baby. Taking the time to recognise and accept this will help you process these changes, rather than letting them affect your mood subconsciously. Most people will refer to this as mindfulness practice, and countless pregnant women will vouch for it.
Emotions can play a significant role in all aspects of life and thinking positively can boost the possibility of achieving your goals. It’s important to remain positive during pregnancy, there are a number of things you can do to boost morale. Yoga and mindfulness meditation are examples of exercise that leave you relaxed and allow you to clear your mind.
Communication with your partner, friends or family around you can also help to maintain a positive outlook and the support can be invaluable throughout your pregnancy.
Other complimentary therapies and relaxation techniques such as massage and aromatherapy will also help your mind slow down enough for you to notice the things that are getting you bogged down.
RHG partner and Freedom Fertility Specialists Claire Caldow and Mandy Worsley discussed the impact of emotional health & wellbeing on pregnancy and pregnancy rates during the first lockdown in 2020, which you can still watch online here.
Sleep when you’re tired
You’ll feel a significant drop in your energy levels during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. You’ll find yourself needing to sleep much more than usual. When you can, we recommend trying to sleep, and spending as much time doing so to help you maintain your energy levels.
Let others help
During pregnancy your body will need all the rest it can get. Fighting the need to go to sleep to keep the rest of your responsibilities ticking over is a stressor. However, one way to address this is by letting your partner take on more of your shared responsibilities and asking your family or friends for help where possible.
Face any money worries
Make a list of everything you’ll need and prioritise them. Decide what you can afford to buy and consider your options for getting the things you can’t.
You might find that you won’t have the financial flexibility to buy everything brand new. But there will be lots of things you can get from friends and family, or buy second hand, like car seats, cribs and strollers.
Having a baby shower, most likely via Zoom this year, and making a list of things you need is another way of letting friends and family help you provide things like clothes, bottles, sterilisers and nappies. All of which are undoubtedly essential and can reduce stress caused by finances.
Prepare for birth and your baby’s early days
This can be fun when doing it with your partner, your mum, sister or another expecting mum to be. As we know, we can’t currently do this in person, but try to find a way to communicate regularly to discuss what you have learned about the stages of development of your baby will help you prepare mentally and get you excited about their arrival.
There are online antenatal and postnatal care classes available, read everything you can, and speak to your own mother, doctor, midwife and other expecting mums about what it’ll be like.
You’ve probably heard this one before, and for good reason. Exercise is a tried and trusted stress reliever and endorphin booster. We would recommend light exercise like pregnancy yoga, or just regular walks to keep you moving, keep you positive and give you a change of scenery.
Ask for advice
The internet can be full of worrying advice so if there’s something about your physical or mental health that bothers you or something you are uncertain about, please talk to us.
Women who have had IVF or any other fertility treatments should speak to someone from their clinic. At RHG we work with a number of partners, including fertility health and wellness, acupuncturists, reflexologists, counsellors and more, all of which can help you throughout your pregnancy,
If there’s something specific that worries you, our expert clinical and nursing team will be able to undertake the tests, checks or scans that will help settle any worries you might have. If you need to talk, please contact us here.