5 Top Tips for Stressing Less in Pregnancy
Studies rank pregnancy at No. 12 on the list of life's most stressful events. And, of course, the rest of your stress isn't going away anytime soon.
It's perfectly natural to worry about your growing baby. In fact, it's great training for parenthood. You might worry about your new role as a mother, how having a baby will impact your relationship with your partner or how you'll pay for college in 2039.
But stress isn't going to do you any favors in pregnancy. Ironically, stress can worsen just about every pregnancy symptom: aches, pains, headaches, heartburn, hives and nausea. Plus, stress will suppress your immune system, which is already weakened by pregnancy. (Hello, cold and flu!)
There are many ways to decrease stress, such as taking deep breaths, listening to music, going for a walk, talking with a friend, sipping (decaf!) tea, reading a book, gazing at a sunset and having a massage.
Take a moment to come up with a list of your top three stress relievers. If possible, come up with some you can do at the same time, such as listening to your favorite artist while taking a bubble bath and doing some deep breathing. When you feel stressed, that can be your go-to place.
Here's what our Mommy M.D.s -- doctors who are also mothers -- do to stress less during their own pregnancies.
"When I was pregnant with my second baby, I was living on the Farm, a commune in Tennessee," says Stacey Marie Kerr, M.D., a mother of two grown daughters, a grandmother of two, a family physician and author of "Homebirth in the Hospital: Integrating Natural Childbirth with Modern Medicine" in Santa Rosa, California. "We had been delivering babies there with midwives for many years, and we had a cesarean section rate of less than 2%. We expected the birth to go right, and so it did. Of course, we were prepared in case Mother Nature needed help, but I think that is key: When you expect something to go right, it more likely will."
"Meditation is a huge part of my life," says Nancy Rappaport, M.D., a mom of three grown children, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, an attending child and adolescent psychiatrist in the Cambridge, Massachusetts, public schools and author of "The Behavior Code: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students." "It gives me a buffer from reality. I have a fairly intense life, and I do a lot of listening. Sitting quietly in meditation allows my brain to rinse out like clothes in a washing machine. The chance to sit quietly and learn to be an observer is a helpful skill in pregnancy -- and also in parenting. It helps you to be more receptive to what your kids are trying to say."
"When I got pregnant with my first child, I was in my residency training," says Elissa Charbonneau, D.O., a mom of a son and a daughter and the medical director of the New England Rehabilitation Hospital in Portland, Maine. "Because I was in the second year of a three-year residency program, I wasn't able to alter my work schedule. But I did try to rest as much as I could and take the best care of myself possible. Having a little time to myself is the best stress reliever for me, so I made time to take a walk or do yoga. That was very relaxing for me."
"During my pregnancy, I tried not to worry too much about anything," says Ayala Laufer-Cahana, M.D., a mom of three, a pediatrician and the founder of Herbal Water Inc. and Dr. Ayala's Magic Spice in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. "This approach has served me very well. My approach to life is that I don't like having huge expectations. I like for life to surprise me! Before I got pregnant, I didn't try to imagine what it would be like to be pregnant. I figured I'd know soon enough."
When to Call Your Doctor or Midwife
During pregnancy, your emotions might be on a wild rollercoaster ride. It's normal to have worries, doubts and fears. More than 70% of pregnant women experience mood swings while they're pregnant, especially during the first trimester.
However, if you feel depressed for more than two weeks, call your doctor or midwife.
Jennifer Bright is a mom of four sons, founding CEO of woman- and veteran-owned custom publisher Bright Communications LLC, co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides team of 150+ mommy M.D.s, and co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years" and six other books in the Mommy MD Guides series. She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate Inc.