During pregnancy, everything changes. Your body changes and so does your mind. And because stress is a body process that is designed to help us cope with change, it is natural to have a certain amount of stress during pregnancy.
An average amount of stress resulting from acclimatizing to these changes is normal. The problem arises when stress due to other factors is added to this stress.
It is important to be aware of your level of stress and work towards reducing it.
If you are pregnant, do the following things to reduce stress:
- Practice Meditation
Meditation is the best way to relax. If you have never meditated before, try this method.
- Sit comfortably with eyes closed
- Breathe in and out as you normally do
- Focus on the path the air follows as it enters the lungs and leaves
- Do this for a minute at first and then increase the duration
- When you focus on your breath, you move from being in an agitated state to a calm state
- Do relaxation exercises for neck and shoulders
- When we are stressed, we involuntarily hold our neck our shoulders in contraction.
This causes stress in the whole body and can lead to headaches.
- Do neck rotation exercises
- Do neck stretch exercises
- Do shoulder rotation exercises
- Practice chanting
Chanting involves repeating a short string of words over and over again. You can do this with the help of beads to keep count of the number of times you are chanting, or you could chant without keeping count.
Chanting forces you to focus on what you are repeating and takes your mind away from any other thoughts that may be keeping your mind busy and tiring you out.
- Do breathing exercises
Breathe in with your nostrils and breathe out through pursed lips. As you breathe out, let go and drop your shoulders. Do this as if you are heaving a sigh of relief after a tense moment. Repeat this 5 times at a stretch.
Pursed lip breathing forces the body to move from sympathetic (fight or flight mode) to parasympathetic (relaxed mode).
- Recite positive affirmations
Sit or lie in a relaxed position and place your hands on your baby bump and close your eyes. Have a conversation with your baby saying “You are growing beautifully. I love you. I am waiting to receive you when you are ready.” Say it slowly and deliberately. Imagine your baby reacting to what you say. Repeat this over and over whenever you feel stressed about what may happen to you or your baby.
Sleep reduces stress like nothing else can.
If you feel stressed, lie on the bed, close your eyes, breathe deeply and focus on your breath. You will soon fall asleep.
Stress is a part of life. Don’t get stressed about stress. Just manage it effectively by following a routine, doing the simple exercises given above.
Dr Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD
Dr Debmita Dutta is a practicing doctor, a parenting consultant and the founder of the website WPA whatparentsask.com – She conducts Parenting workshops for schools and corporate organizations. She also conducts prenatal classes for expecting parents.