Everyone has some stress in their life, but having too much stress is not healthy, especially during pregnancy. Research shows that stress during pregnancy may be linked to preterm birth and low birth weight in babies.
The amount of support you receive from the people around you can have a direct effect on how much stress you feel during your pregnancy. If you receive very little support, you may feel lonely and depressed.
Although pregnancy is a joyous time for most couples, the changes and adjustments can sometimes cause strain in your relationship and increase your stress level. If you are not in a relationship, you may be feeling stressed about being all alone. Events you did not expect may happen even during pregnancy. This can also increase your stress levels.
If you find that your stress level is rising, look for community resources that can help you find ways to reduce your stress and deal with challenges.
Ways to reduce your stress
Women with too much stress need to learn healthy ways to deal with it. Here are some tips:
1. Talk about it
Share the joys, problems and worries of pregnancy with someone close to you. This can make your pregnancy seem less stressful. If, for some reason, you do not have the support of your partner, try to spend time with other people whose company you enjoy.
2. Learn about pregnancy and childbirth
Attend prenatal classes and meet other women going through pregnancy, too. The breathing and concentration exercises you will learn for childbirth can help you relax now. By knowing what to expect and being prepared, you can reduce any worry you may be feeling about the birth itself. Working with your health-care provider and support person to prepare a birth plan may help, too.
3. Get active
Exercise is a proven way to lift your spirits and reduce stress.
4. Rest and relax
Make sure you are sleeping enough. Learn other ways to rest and relax. Your public library will have books and audiotapes about reducing stress and learning to relax.
Excerpted from Healthy Beginnings: Giving your baby the best start, from preconception to birth, copyright 2009 The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.
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