It’s very normal to be a bit stressed about the changes that are happening in your life and to your body. Feeling stressed occasionally is unlikely to cause problems for your baby, but if you’re stressed and anxious frequently it’s important that you ask your midwife or doctor for help.
Here are a few suggestions to help reduce stress so that you can enjoy this special time.
Get more sleep and rest
Listen to your body. If you’re feeling exhausted, take a break or a nap, and go to bed early. Sleep is important for anyone’s mental health and it also supports a healthy pregnancy.
If you’re already a parent it can be hard to get a break. But you do deserve time to yourself. Ask your partner, a friend or family to look after your child or children for an afternoon and use the time for some rest and relaxation.
Take a soak
Baths are the best when it comes to relaxing. Plus, a soak can help soothe muscle aches and pains. Baths can help reduce anxiety when you go into labour too. During early labour, they’ve been shown to improve the progress of the labour and help reduce pain.
Keep the water warm, not hot—especially during the first trimester when baby is still developing.
Light a candle to help create a relaxing ambiance. The Cradle & Tonic Bump pregnancy candle is blended with lavender, petitgrain and ylang ylang essential oils that will help encourage relaxation and relieve those aches and pains.
Try gentle exercise
Exercise helps release endorphins and gets the blood flowing, and a lot of times it can help take your mind off what’s bothering you. If it’s the last thing you feel like doing, exercise can really help lift your mood.
Make sure exercising is safe first (unless you have a complication, it is) and then you want to choose an exercise that you truly enjoy doing.
Swimming is a great option because it keeps you toned, without being too hard on your joints. You could also try some pregnancy yoga. This not only tones and stretches your body, it also teaches you breathing, relaxation and meditation techniques that can help to boost your emotional wellbeing.
Having a good diet and eating well is good for your brain, your body and your baby. Make sure you eat regular meals so your blood sugar doesn’t drop, which can leave you feeling tired and irritable.
It’s not always easy to eat well if you are not feeling great emotionally, or if you're suffering from pregnancy sickness. But if you can make even some small changes, you will feel better for it. Dehydration can also affect your mood, make sure you're getting your recommended six to eight 200ml glasses a day (NHS 2015).
Have a massage
Taking some time out to have a massage can really help. Ensure that you select a spa or salon that specialises in pregnancy massage. Your therapist will either have you lie on your side for the massage or will have a special table with a cut-out for your belly allowing you to comfortably lie on your stomach.
Alternatively, a back and foot massage from your partner at home can be just as effective.
There's evidence to suggest that aromatherapy helps to reduce anxiety and help you feel calm and relaxed. Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy that uses essential oils. These oils come from plants, such as herbs and flowers, and they’re highly concentrated. The oils smell amazing, but they also contain therapeutic chemicals.
Essential oils send chemical messages to the part of your brain that affects your mood and how you’re feeling. This happens either when you breathe in the scent of the oil or when your skin absorbs the oil during a massage or bath.
Not all essential oils are safe for you to use during pregnancy, be sure to use oils that are approved.
Not only can acupuncture be safe during pregnancy, it can be very relaxing. Acupuncture is known to lower stress levels by regulating the production, and subsequent release, of hormones, which is something that all pregnant women can benefit from. Many people also credit acupuncture for easing a wide range of pregnancy symptoms including heartburn, swelling in the legs, constipation, sciatica and more.
Be kind to yourself
Laughter is one of the body’s best ways of relaxing. Meet up with friends, read a good book or watch a feel good film.
Pregnancy is also the perfect time to treat yourself to all those beauty treatments you never normally splash out on.