14 Ways to Reduce Stress During Pregnancy
Amidst first trimester’s bouts of morning sickness, weight gain, and general worry, most moms struggle to find ways to manage stress and anxiety. Below I’ll go over 14 ways to reduce stress during pregnancy for a happier and healthier mommy and baby.
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Regular meditation can help improve concentration, lower blood pressure, and increase self-esteem and self-awareness.
While meditation can be extremely effective, you do have to put in regular practice in order to get better at it. There are a lot of great meditation apps available. Here are a few I recommend:
Headspace has guided meditation for anxiety, pain, sleep, pregnancy and much more. I particularly enjoy the speaker’s gentle, soothing voice. The app also has guided meditation for kids.
As seen on Shark Tank and a top app of 2017, Simple Habit is a big competitor. There are over 50 different teachers that teach a variety of topics. Their ‘For Women, By Women’ category has sessions that deal with complex issues of orgasm anxiety, sexual harassment, and resilience. With Simple Habit, you’re sure to find meditation suitable for any occasion.
Stop, Breathe & Think evaluates your mood upon opening the app and uses that information to recommend custom meditations. There are sessions for pregnancy, kids, and even yoga.
Calm has a great selection of meditative music to listen to during meditation or on a stressful drive. Additionally, the adult version of bedtime stories, ‘Sleep Stories’ is excellent for those who have difficulty falling asleep.
Daily meditation will strengthen your ability to cope with stress and it’ll undoubtedly come in handy once baby arrives. A good tip to incorporate meditation into your daily routine is to set time aside everyday to practice. You can also set a notification as a reminder for you to do your meditation.
Another way to manage stress is through yoga. Yoga strengthens and tones core muscles, increases flexibility, improves posture, and even helps you lose weight. Yoga is not only for women, men and children can also benefit from yoga and it can be a healthy activity for the entire family.
Apps I recommend:
Down Dog – Yoga lessons that make you feel like you’re in a real class.
Daily Yoga – 14 Day Abs Challenge? Sign me up! After baby, of course.
Asana Rebel – Try their cleansing detox yoga, full body workout, beach body, and more.
Exercise releases endorphins that help relieve pain and reduce anxiety. Most pregnant women are hesitant to exercise, especially if they are approaching term. Every women is different so you should definitely consult your doctor before completing any rigorous exercise. Light exercise like swimming, brisk walking, and cycling are usually okay and beneficial for a healthy pregnancy.
Prenatal Workout is an app designed for pregnant mommies. I love using this app to stay fit during my pregnancy. The workouts only take 20 minutes and they’re specifically tailored for each trimester.
4. Eat healthy
A balanced diet of plenty of fruits and vegetables can enhance wellbeing and better your mood. However, some healthy foods don’t sit well with all pregnant women. Consider keeping a food log to take notes of foods that make you nauseous or uncomfortable during your pregnancy.
5. Deep breathing
Deep breathing is a simple, yet effective way to reduce stress. Taking deep, controlled breaths allow for greater oxygenation of the blood, which releases endorphins. Deep breathing is a skill that comes with practice and once mastered, is employable anytime and anyplace.
Check out these 6 Breathing Exercises from Greatist.
6. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is another tool to minimize stress and anxiety. To be mindful is to be fully aware of the sensations around you. For example, when you are driving, instead of letting your mind wander, focus on the pressure you are putting on the gas, the weight of your body in the seat, the way the steering wheel feel against your palms, and so on. Practicing mindfulness will put an end to any distracting and counterproductive thought processes that your brain has been wired to perform.
7 Minute Mindfulness is an excellent audio book that covers everything from relieving mind and body tension to breathing methods and techniques to enter deeper sleep. It only takes 7 minutes to enter a state of calm and rejuvenate your mind. I highly recommend it to anyone who’s struggling with other forms of guided meditation.
7. Treat yourself to a massage
Massages reduce stress, decrease pain levels, and improve circulation and sleep. Although you can get massages throughout your pregnancy, some places don’t offer them to women in their first trimester due to fear of miscarriage. However, there has been no evidence linking these claims. Every pregnancy carries its own unique risks so it’s best to err on the side of caution and consult a doctor prior to getting a massage.
8. Enjoy an occasional bath
There’s a common misconception it’s unsafe to bathe when you’re expecting. This is only true when the bath water is exceedingly hot since body temperatures above 102.2 °F can lead to a higher risk of brain and spinal cord defects. According to the Ashley S. Roman, OB-GYN, keeping water temperature below 100°F will prevent overheating. Play it safe by purchasing a bath thermometer to continuously monitor your water temperature. Additionally, limit your bath to 10 minutes or less and look for signs of overheating such as sweating.
When taking the necessary precautions, an occasional bath is safe and is a great way to relax during your pregnancy. Drop in a soothing bath bomb for an even more relaxing experience.
9. Listen to relaxing music
Instead of listening to the Top 100s playlist, put on meditative music. Regular music tends to be stimulating and emotionally stirring, while calming music lowers blood pressure and aids in mindfulness. You can download free meditation music online and most music streaming apps like Spotify and Pandora have meditation playlists. Playing calming music during meditation, yoga, while driving, and other activities can help you adopt a more tranquil mindset.
10. Unwind with tea and a book
Grab a cup of tea, a good read, and settle into your favorite seat in the house. Reading helps lower your heart rate and relieve tension. If you prefer listening to your books, Audible offers a great selection of audiobooks.
11. Have sex!
Sex feels good, but it can also help you prepare for an easier labor. Muscles used in orgasm contractions are strengthened through sex and you’ll need them when you are pushing your little one.
For more information on how to have safe sex during pregnancy, read March of Dime’s Sex During Pregnancy.
12. Laugh often
Laughing improves overall circulation and is a natural muscle relaxer. It also releases endorphins (a great excuse to binge watch The Big Bang Theory!).
If you want a light and humorous read, F in Exams: The Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers by Richard Benson is a good one. These wrong answers are sure to make you laugh.
Need a quick laugh and mental reassurance? Check out Relatable Pregnancy GIFs That’ll Make You Laugh and Cry.
13. Try your hand at adult coloring or other hands-on creative activity
Most of us choose pastimes that don’t engage in mindfulness, such as watching tv or browsing the internet. Engaging your attention in more tactile tasks connects the mind and body, improving concentration and relaxation while promoting creativity. It’s also a fun activity to enjoy with your kids.
Kerby Rosanes’ Doodle Invasion is a beautifully illustrated coloring book and a favorite of mine. Here’s a page I colored:
Aren’t his doodles mesmerizing?
If you aren’t particularly a fan of coloring, Paint by Sticker is another great activity book for adults.
Crocheting and knitting are also ways to improve concentration and practice mindfulness.
Best Free Baby Crochet Patterns
14. Talk to others
Whether it’s to friends and family or a counselor, talking to others help relieve stress. You’ll receive needed reassurance and gain insight into other people’s personal experience with pregnancy.
Remember, pregnancy is an amazing time in your life. It’s the start of a whole new chapter. Don’t let stress get in your way!
How do you combat stress during pregnancy?
Check out these posts to get awesome free stuff for your new baby:
- Perks of Creating a Baby Registry (Save Money, Free Gifts, and More!)
- Free Pregnancy Books to Read Online
- Top Free Baby Samples and Products by Mail and In-Store
- Best Free Baby Crochet Patterns