It's no secret that when mom's are stressed during pregnancy, it can have an effect on the fetus. But this doesn't help us feel less stressed when we experience moments of frustration or anxiety. In fact, it can lead to higher stress levels if we struggle to manage it.
So what can we do? We can rethink the way we view stress, and acknowledge hard times rather than suppress our negative emotions.
Stress Can Be Good
Stress is not necessarily a bad thing. We experience stress as our body's way of enhancing our reactions. Your vision may become more focused, you may run faster, or be made aware of your surroundings.
It's more about how we cope (or struggle to cope) with our stress that can affect our babies and set a precedent for how they will handle stress. We are teaching them how to react to difficult situations and problem solve.
What is Causing Your Stress?
Pregnancy can bring on a whole host of stressors. From experiencing a new pregnancy symptom, trying to turn a breech baby, to financial or relationship strains.
Pinpointing what is causing you stress can help make it more manageable. When we actively recognize and acknowledge our stress we are freeing up our brain's ability to problem solve.
When you find yourself in a moment of stress, take a deep breath and soften your muscles. Imagine your stress leaving your body with every out-breath.
Take a mental note of how you feel and your body’s reaction. Is your heart racing? Are you sweating? Do you feel like isolating yourself or want to yell? Before you react, try to take a few more deep breaths, then re-evaluate.
For more intense situations, try box breathing.
Breathe in slowly to the count of four.
Hold your breath for four seconds.
Slowly exhale for four seconds.
Hold for another four seconds, and repeat as needed.
Box breathing can help calm your nerves, give you more clarity, and combat pregnancy insomnia. If four seconds is too long to start out with, try box breathing for 2-3 second long increments.
Chronic stress is a little more complicated to deal with. It can cause your blood pressure to rise, fast heart rates, anxiety, and inflammation. Usually there are bigger problems at play, and there may be more than one. Chronic stress is a long term problem that requires long term solutions.
Try out these tips to help overcome chronic stress:
Communicate your feelings with someone you trust or with a counselor during talk therapy.
Experiencing stress during pregnancy is normal and can be dealt with in a healthy way. We stress because we care, but that does not mean we have to resign ourselves to a constant state on high alert. Practiced breathing and mindfulness goes a long way in coping with the stress in our daily lives.
Often, people think mothers do all the work during labor and delivery, but we know that fathers provide much more value to their baby’s birth than just their presence. They are there to assist the mother and, in fact, have many jobs throughout the course of labor.