High levels of stress have the potential to impact numerous different areas of our overall wellness, including our mental health, gastrointestinal health, and cardiovascular health. Studies have also linked elevated stress levels during pregnancy with poor birth outcomes, such as preterm birth, infant mortality, and low birthweight. These outcomes are due in part to the fact that stress results in increases in cortisol, norepinephrine, and inflammation, all of which affect the fetal environment and have implications for maternal and infant health. To promote healthy births and healthy lives, we’re sharing some steps you can take to reduce stress while pregnant.
Allow yourself to rest
While sleeping is typically an easy and necessary part of the first trimester, it can be challenging to get adequate sleep later on in your pregnancy. A lack of sleep can disrupt our mood, judgment, and memory, leading to more stress in our day-to-day lives. Prioritize resting when you can to reduce the symptoms associated with stress and sleep deprivation. In order to achieve your eight hours of sleep each night, cultivate a relaxing nighttime routine. Listening to music, taking a bath, or sipping on caffeinated herbal tea can all help promote a more restful night’s sleep.
Focus on the activities that make you happy
Being pregnant is a wonderful stage of life for many women, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t also be stressful. Pregnancy can also feel a little overwhelming at times, with so much of what you do and what you talk about revolving around your growing baby. This is why finding a hobby or activity that makes you happy can get your mind off your pregnancy for a little while, can keep you centered, and reduce stress while pregnant. Painting, reading, and yoga are all examples of activities that can take you out of all of your plans and preparations and allow you to enjoy the moment.
Finding time each day to get active is a great way to reduce stress and reap numerous health benefits. You and your provider can decide what exercise routine is best for your pregnancy, but even getting out for a walk can help release endorphins, improve your mood and get your blood pumping. A general goal is 30 minutes of activity, 5 days a week. Getting daily exercise may also lead to better sleep at night.
Nutrition is essential during pregnancy, but sometimes pregnancy cravings can have you reaching for food that won’t do much in terms of fueling your body. While the occasional treat is generally fine, getting your daily servings of fruits, vegetables, protein, and whole grains will have you feeling better both mentally and physically. If you’re struggling with knowing where to begin in terms of eating well during your pregnancy, consider our nutrition services provided by Maria Kennedy, MPH, RD, LDN, to help get you on track.
Find a support system
Your changing body and influx of hormones can leave you feeling physically and emotionally exhausted. While feeling a whirlwind of emotions is normal during pregnancy, if you feel prolonged or severe stress, it’s time to seek help. Friends, family, and your partner can be great places to start, but speaking with a professional is also a viable option to reduce stress while pregnant. Your provider at Triangle Physicians for Women can help steer you in the right direction.
Talk To Your OB/GYN Provider
The Triangle Physicians for Women team is here for you in all stages of your life. If you have any questions about managing stress while pregnant, please reach out. If you would like to schedule an appointment with Triangle Physicians for Women, you may do so by calling (919) 678-6900 or requesting an appointment electronically under the Contact Us tab.