Stress and Pregnancy

FACT: Pregnancy is remarkably safe.FACT: Pain management is better than ever. Deliveries are much easier than they’ve ever been.FACT: Most of the time, all you have to do is get out of the way, and let this beautiful process work naturally.Feel better? Knowing these facts helps keep anxiety down. You’ll not only feel better this way, but look better too! Stress ages your body from the inside out.When you’re relaxed enough to keep your blood pressure down, you’ll train yourself to be a happy, calm mom when there’s a lot of action. And you know what that means: Calm mom, calm baby.The trick isn’t to eliminate all stresses but to find the sweet spot that allows you to manage stress, rather than the other way around. You can read more about the biology behind stress here.QUIZ: Are You Feeling Stressed?Stress management really comes down to maintaining your energy levels. If you live a balanced, healthy life, you’ll undoubtedly have more energy and power to cope with stressors. You can start by following some of these tips for coping with stress.Long-Term Work StressIf you’re worried about how to deal with your job, it’s best to have a talk with your boss. When you’re ready, tell your employer about your prenatal visits.Ask how you can manage the tasks that need to be taken care of when you’re away on maternity leave. Be up front: If you think you can financially handle a three-day week (instead of five), just ask. It’s also not a bad idea to go over family leave policies and options with the human resources department.Day-to-Day Work StressSpread out your lunch hour and rest breaks to create fifteen-minute relaxation periods to recharge you. Use a soothing ritual like a shoulder rub, meditation in the sun or a short walk. Stash small meals and healthful snacks in your desk to keep up your energy. Keep water on hand so your reflex response to aggravation is sipping something good for you!Enlist a Work ConfidantConfide in a close colleague if possible, before telling the whole crew. Having someone who understands why you need to go to the bathroom (among other things) will make you feel like you’re not hiding something.Buddy UpYou may not be thinking about baby play dates yet, but how about scheduling a mom-to-be play date right now? Joining a support group of moms going through similar things (or who have) is one of the best things you can do for your state of mind.Studies show that handling a pregnancy with little emotional support is correlated to greater emotional distress, depression and anxiety. Those who cope with the aid of support? They tend to take better care of all aspects of their health.Get Your iPod Playlist ReadyWhether you like Mozart or Metallica, music can reduce stress during pregnancy, and even reduce pain during childbirth. Listening to tunes for a half hour a day substantially reduces depression and stress. An added bonus: Blasting some tunes will stimulate your baby with various sounds in utero.MORE: Be a Super Mom, Not Super Stressed

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