Having a baby can be thrilling, but it can also be overwhelming. At what point does it become too much? In this Happify article, Mindpath Health’s Elisabeth Netherton, MD, offers coping strategies to help manage moods during pregnancy.

5 Easy Ways to Manage Stress When You’re Pregnant_elisabeth netherton md, mindpath health

Having a baby can be thrilling. But it also brings some stress. While everyone is different, there are a handful of worries that are pretty common.

These worries include:

  • Concern about pregnancy loss—especially during the first three months, or if it’s happened before
  • Fear that the baby will have health issues
  • Doubts around when and how to announce your pregnancy
  • There’s also the pressure to feel like things “should” be a certain way. I should be liking my pregnancy more. I should be more excited about being a parent. I should feel closer to this baby. I should be eating better… The list can feel endless.
  • For some, pregnancy also adds new types of stress. These might include finding or paying for the healthcare you need. Then, there are worries about COVID-19. Plus, whether you can find the right supplies, like baby formula.

How stress can affect pregnancy

Stress may seem bad for you, but sometimes it’s not. Experts even say we need some stress to get things done. At best, stress can nudge us to be on time or make time for enough sleep. But too much stress really isn’t good.

How much stress is too much?

Stress becomes hurtful when things seem like too much or you don’t know how to manage the demands. During pregnancy, too much stress can have a negative effect on both you and your baby.

Too much stress can cause:

  • Poor sleep
  • Worries that are hard to shake
  • Health issues for you or your baby
  • Early delivery
  • Low birth weight for your baby
  • Low mood for you or your baby
  • Research also suggests that stress over a long period of time could affect how well the baby grows in the womb.

5 Ways to manage pregnancy stress

You can’t get rid of all stress. But these steps can help you lower it:

  1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Many people don’t think of sleep as playing a big role in their well‑being, but it really does. Good sleep can help you feel better during the day and manage your stress better, too

Experts say eight hours of sleep a night is best for most people

This may be easier said than done. It can be hard to get comfortable in bed in the third trimester. Try extra pillows for more support. And doing simple things (listening to music, taking a shower) to relax before bed can help you sleep better during pregnancy.

  1. Eat Well and Drink Water

You feel more energized when you eat a healthy diet. This boost of energy can help you deal with any stress that comes your way. Try to eat well and drink plenty of water—about 8 to 12 cups a day. And avoid foods and drinks low in nutrients or high in sugar

  1. Stay Active

Moving your body is a well-known way to ease stress. It may also lessen aches and other side effects of pregnancy. Walking is a simple way to add exercise into your routine. Prenatal yoga can help you stay fit, relaxed, and prepared for labor.

If you’d like to try harder workouts, talk to your doctor about what would be safe for you and your baby at your stage of pregnancy.

  1. Shorten Your To-Do List

Often, you can manage stress by what you don’t do. You can say no to extra tasks. Or take things off your list that don’t make you feel good.

  1. Talk to Someone You Can Trust

Get it off your chest. Talking to someone about how you’re doing can help you feel better. It’s also smart to ask for help. Perhaps a friend or a family member can help you build the crib or fill out forms. It sounds simple, but sharing a stress can help ease it.

These simple, healthy habits can go a long way in helping you handle stress during pregnancy. But if life feels like it’s getting out of control, the best thing you can do is ask for help.

What to do when pregnancy stress is too much

If you think these tips aren’t enough to deal with stress during pregnancy, talk to your doctor. Adding therapy and/or medication can be useful for some people. Your doctor can help you think through the pros and cons of taking medicine while you’re pregnant. And if you can, lean on your family, friends, and care providers for the support you need.

Read the full Happify article with sources.

Elisabeth Netherton, M.D.

Houston, TX

Dr. Elisabeth Netherton focuses on women’s mental health and personality disorders across the lifespan. Dr. Netherton understands the challenges women face and has experience in prescribing women during pregnancy and postpartum. She believes it is incredibly meaningful to see mothers feel better because this positively impacts them and their children. Dr. Netherton wants her patients to feel empowered and consider ... Read Full Bio »

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