Pregnancy is an exciting time, there’s no doubt, but it can also be a time of great stress and anxiety as you go through all these changes to both your body and your life as you know it. Combine that with surging hormone levels and it can be a recipe for disaster.
However there are some simple things you can do to help manage stress and anxiety before they get out of hand.
1. Focus on the positive
If you find yourself getting overwhelmed at all the changes, focus on the positive things. Writing lists or in a journal or even a gratitude app can help, or even just thinking about your baby and what it will be like holding them in your arms – visualising those precious moments.
2. Don’t feel guilty
Remember that when you’re looking after you you’re also looking after your baby, so don’t feel like you’re being selfish (not that looking after yourself is ever selfish!) but if you miss an event, or the house is a mess because you’re too tired – don’t worry, put your feet up and rest.
3. Talk to your baby
From around week 18 baby will be able to hear your voice – but even before then baby can feel you talking – so talk to them as much as possible! Talk, sing, laugh, whatever you feel like, but it will not only help your bond but also to start visualising the baby as a real little person.
4. Get plenty of sleep and rest
Sleep is vital for your mental wellbeing so you need to get plenty of rest – and during pregnancy, this doesn’t always happen at night so take time during the day to rest and recharge your batteries. If you already have kids to look after, try napping when they nap (we know, we know…) or enlisting someone to give you a little break wherever possible.
5. Identify the source of your worries
If you just can’t seem to shake the stress or anxiety, sit down and try and pin point what is exactly causing you to worry and address is. As yourself what can you do to manage/remove it/work through it?
6. Talk things through
Whether it’s with your partner, your doctor or a psychologist, talking about how you’re feeling – good and bad – is so important. Don’t feel bad for not being happy and over the moon about being pregnant or your baby all the time, it’s perfectly normal to ride the rollercoaster of emotions during pregnancy. It’s hard work growing a human and it’s only natural to have good days and bad.
That said, if the bad days are outweighing the good and you can’t seem to find the positives, speak with your doctor as you may be suffering with prenatal depression.
7. Take time out just for you
And we’re not talking about doing the groceries or hanging out the washing in peace – we’re talking quality YOU time. Doing something you love, purely for you, whatever that may be. Catching up with friends, sitting alone reading a good book, hitting the shops or going for a walk, it’s all about what you feel like doing even if its only an hour or so.
8. Eating right
A healthy balanced diet can work wonders for your mental health, eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables will give you energy and help keep you healthy, fit and strong and provide both you and your baby with all the nutrients your bodies need.
Exercise is so important not only for staying healthy within your body, but also within your mind. Getting active and moving helps get the blood flowing and boosts endorphins – those wonderful things that make you feel happy and positive! Even if you just go for a walk that can be enough to clear the mind and reset.
10. Get informed
If something is worrying you about pregnancy, childbirth or parenting in general, always speak with your doctor – ask questions that’s what they are there for and can reassure you. It can be very scary and overwhelming but this is what they have spent years training for and doing and chances are they’ve heard it all before.
11. Get organised
One of the biggest pregnancy stressors is that ever-growing to-do list. It can be overwhelming getting everything ready for your baby and having everything organised.
Start by making a list of essentials and non-essentials and work through it in that order – and don’t think you need to keep up with all the other mums and their Pinterest-perfect nurseries – your baby won’t notice if their room isn’t perfectly styled, all they need is you (and milk!)
12. Get help
You can’t do everything mama so delegate delegate DELEGATE! Give your partner their own to-do list, and then wherever possible enlist family and friends to help you work through yours.
13. Address the financial stress early on
Financial stress can be another one of the biggest causes of stress during pregnancy, babies come with extra expenses – and usually a loss of income for at least a portion of time – so get ahead of the stress by planning a budget accordingly.
There are plenty of ways to do things on the cheap so get creative. Sure you might have to change your lifestyle to accommodate your new budget (but when baby arrives you’ll find that lifestyle changes anyway, at least in the beginning!)
14. Pamper yourself
Take plenty of time for R&R wherever you can, and as you become more tired and sore, pregnancy massage can be a wonderful way to unwind and heal those sore muscles, have a facial, go to the hairdresser or get a mani/pedi – whatever makes you feel good. If you’re on a budget then enlist your partner to give you a massage or ask family or friends to give you vouchers instead of presents for Christmas or your birthday.
15. Connect with your partner
It may take two to get pregnant but pregnancy can often leave you feeling alone and isolated and even though your partner may try, they can never truly understand what you are going through. That said, try and maintain quality time, intimacy and connection by talking and spending time together – focusing both on the pregnancy but also on other things you both enjoy as well – and work on keeping that relationship solid so they can be a place of comfort and support – not an added stress!
16. Speak with other mums
You’re never alone and you’re not the only mum feeling this way. Whether you have friends who are mums or you find a local mothers group, or even connect with other mums online, sharing stories and experiences can help you to know what you are feeling is normal and very common – and chances are you will have a good laugh together swapping war stories!