Pregnancy brings on a wide range of emotions, sometimes all at once—and stress is one of the most prevalent ones. Between your fluctuating hormone levels, physical discomfort, and worrying about the future, it’s a miracle you aren’t a big ball of stress 24/7. If you have a preexisting mental disorder, pregnancy stress can be even harder to manage.
Stress can also lead to a host of other issues, which can all, in turn, lead to more stress. Trouble sleeping, headaches, heart palpitations, obsessive or negative thoughts—all of these can be a direct result of stress. The worst part? This stress can affect your baby, too. Research has shown that consistent, high anxiety levels can affect the development of your baby. The good news? Humans have had centuries to learn how to cope with stress! There are a lot of ways to treat it—the key is finding what works for you.
Natural Ways to Cope with Stress
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress and anxiety, and aren’t sure where to start, start with something easy—just pay attention to how you feel throughout the day. Is there anything specific that makes you instantly anxious? Maybe it’s a cluttered room, loud noises, or obsessing over a particular negative thought? Make a note of what your triggers might be, and try to avoid them.
Not getting enough sleep leads to increased negative emotions in general, including stress. You need lots and lots of rest—not just because of what you’re going through physically, but also what you’re going through mentally and emotionally. Pregnancy is exhausting, and you need more rest now than ever.
What you put into your body can drastically affect your mood—for better or for worse. Not only do you want to keep you and your baby healthy, but eating right and drinking plenty of water can also help reduce stress.
Exercise is another key ingredient to staying healthy while pregnant, both physically and mentally. Thirty minutes of mild to moderate exercise, several days a week, can make a world of difference for your mood. Going for a brisk walk will help you release endorphins, and lower your cortisol levels—the hormone that causes anxiety.
There’s a lot to think about when you’re pregnant. There’s a lot to do, a lot to plan, a lot of decisions to make, and a lot to worry about. Try meditating once or twice a day to keep your mind clear when you can. It doesn’t even have to be a full-on “om” situation—just a few quiet minutes, focusing on your breathing will help you recenter, and focus on positive things.
If your stress level seems unmanageable and nothing you’re trying is working, consider finding a therapist. They can help you identify any possible underlying issues underneath your stress, as well as recommend healthy ways to cope with your feelings. Sometimes just unloading your anxieties can bring on serious relief.
Treating Stress Unnaturally
If you’ve tried everything you can think of to reduce your stress, and it’s still affecting your daily life, it’s time to talk to your health care provider for other potential options. There are a number of medications you can take for stress that are safe for you to take while pregnant.
Remember: stress is incredibly common in everyday life, and even more common during pregnancy. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with seeking help or treatment—in fact, it’s 100% the right thing to do for you and your baby.
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