Dealing With Stress During Pregnancy: 15 Expert Tips

Melissa finally had it all! She always planned on having a baby at the age of 28 years, and she was finally living her dream–she had a husband who adored her, a career she was passionate about, cute fur babies, and a bun in the over. However, she didn’t realize how stressful trying to juggle all the roles in her life, especially now that she’s responsible for another human life! She was also mindful of how stress affects her baby’s health and ironically found herself stressed out about being stressed! 

Being pregnant can be an exciting yet stressful time in one’s life! It also signifies how your life is about to change–especially when it’s your first child! We are now forced to think about how what our bodies are going through affects something greater than ourselves. 

From the foods we eat to the type of music we listen to, it all has something to do with the amount of stress we are feeling. This stress may be passed on to your baby, so let’s get you nice and relaxed.

In this blog post, we will share fifteen expert tips on dealing with stress during pregnancy. So, kick your feet up and relax. We will cover all of the bases and have you running smoothly in no time. 

Oh, Baby! Can A Pregnant Woman’s Stress Affect The Baby?

Stress affects our body and mind. So, most pregnant women often worry about what stress may to their unborn child. Can stress manifest itself as adverse effects on your baby? 

According to National Ag Safety Database, stress is a factor in 90% of all illnesses. Therefore, it’s crucial to look for healthy ways to release and eliminate stress from your life as an illness prevention method. Let’s take a look at how stress can affect your unborn baby

Planning For Baby’s Arrival Instead of Worrying

Most prenatal stress can stem from not knowing what the future holds. We are worrying about everything and anything. Especially for first-time moms, getting ready to have a child can be overwhelming. They say that as a parent that the worrying never really stops. 

We have to take back our power and learn to let things go that we can not control. Instead of worrying about things out of your control, you can take charge of the things that you’re able to control to provide your unborn child with a safe, loving, and nurturing environment. 

Educating Yourself For Preparedness 

From the minute that we realize that we are pregnant, our minds are racing as we prepare to have a newborn baby to take care of. Learning can help prepare you and instill confidence which often trumps stress. Focus on facts and information instead of open-ended mystery.

Educating yourself on the changes, your body will go through and what you need to know about raising babies can be done in many ways. Do you enjoy talking to someone who is experienced so that you can receive first-hand knowledge? Or, would you rather read what the professionals have to say on the subject?

There is no wrong way to parent and no wrong way to learn about parenting. The amount of literature out there for expecting and new parents is astounding. There’s a book written for every subject you could ever wonder about. 

Getting Your Priorities In Order

Preparing for a baby is something we do throughout our pregnancy. Part of getting ready is letting go of certain lifestyle choices to shift into focusing on parenthood. Going out with the group on a Friday night to the hot new club in town is no longer at the top of our to-do list. We’re thinking about baby bottles, not bottle service, now.

If you have too much on your plate, then maybe you should unload a few things. Deciding which things have a place in your new life and which don’t can be a daunting task. Write it all out so that you can better understand what you are dealing with. 

Perhaps you will return to these areas of your life someday. Perhaps, you will one day realize that you have outgrown that old thing, making room for better things. Not all of us experience significant shifts while becoming a parent. Knowing the difference between something that suits your new lifestyle and something that doesn’t suit it can shine a light on your priorities.

Eat A Healthy Diet 

A healthy, well-balanced diet during pregnancy supports the body and brain functions. Fighting against the crazy cravings and an increase in appetite can be hurdles to cross to get a grasp on your diet. Taking in nutritious foods will benefit your body, rather than just filling your tummy for a while. 

Diets will depend on personal dietary restrictions. Did you know that foods can be directly linked to our mood? Good nutrition can translate into good moods. When we are in a good mood, we can process stress better. Feed your body the nutrients that it needs, and immediately begin reaping the positive benefits. Some foods that help the body naturally fight stress are: 

  • Fresh fruit – Anything high in Vitamin C will bring the sunshine into your life, pushing those dark stress clouds out of your way. Physical and emotional stress will 
  • Seeds and nuts – High in essential fatty acids that the brain and body need. Certain seeds and nuts also contain tryptophan which assists in boosting serotonin production. Serotonin is the happy hormone, which will help fight the stress that you are feeling burdened by. 
  • Dark chocolate– Here we go! Now you’re talking. A few bites of high-quality dark chocolate can get you feeling right as rain. Some studies say adding a bit of dark chocolate to your diet every single day is fine. 
  • Leafy greens– A pregnant woman’s body needs magnesium to keep calm. Add a few servings of leafy greens into your meal plan for the week to help keep your magnesium levels up.

Eating a diet full of processed foods and complex sugars is not properly fueling your body to function at its fullest potential. We often grab quick packaged foods because we would rather have something in our belly than nothing. Since we are so often on the go, we need quick, or at least easy, to keep moving. 

Say No to Caffeine

While coffee may help put the pep in your step, it is doing your nerves no favors. Caffeine intake during pregnancy should be eliminated or severely decreased. Caffeine leads to jitters, nervousness, edgy feelings, and stress. But, it tastes so good, you say. Yes, it does. No argument there!

For daily coffee drinkers, quitting caffeine can have adverse side effects. In the first few days of a caffeine detox, people can experience headaches, irritability, and even anxiety. While this may seem counterintuitive, put yourself through a process that could create anxiety to get rid of your existing anxiety.

If switching to decaf is the best you can do, that is totally fine. Get the feeling that you are still having your morning coffee or a refreshing iced coffee without the jolt of caffeine. Chamomile tea is tasty and has relaxing, calming properties for those who can deal without the coffee flavor. With just a bit of honey, your tea will be ready to enjoy.

Get More Rest

Sleep is when the body does the majority of its resting and healing. Beautiful changes are happening to the body and can require extra sleep to support all of these changes. You are rebuilding the resources for your energy.

Having a body that is constantly growing and changing, getting comfortable enough to fall asleep can be quite a challenge. Load up on pillows to create your own adjustable 

Get your sleep while you still have the chance. Take advantage of the next few months by getting as much rest as possible. The chances are that a tiny bundle of joy may require feeding or change during your normal nap time. You will adapt, so don’t worry. An extra hour of sleep now wouldn’t hurt, though. 

Exercise To Reduce Anxiety

Exercise can help keep your body in shape while pumping you full of feel-good hormones, thus keeping stress at bay. You may not be doing the same workout as before you got pregnant. There really is nothing wrong with doing a modified version of your normal workout. Doing whatever you feel comfortable doing. Now is not the time to push yourself past your limits. 

A whole new routine could be fun, though. Switch it all up. Trade your old intense routine for a pregnancy-friendly routine, perhaps even surrounded by other pregnant women. Carrying around that extra weight of the baby can be hard on your body. Strengthening the muscles you need to make it through the next few months is a smooth move.

Take A Yoga Class

If a traditional workout is too much, you might think about switching to yoga or blending the two together throughout the week. Yoga is gentle, adaptable, and good for beginners. It’s quite beneficial to pregnant women

Just clear a space large enough for a yoga mat and a few blocks for a home yoga practice. If there is any heavy lifting required to create your new yoga space, ask for help. Do not attempt to lift the living room furniture all on your own. Once you have your space, put on your tutorial video or mood music, and begin destressing. 

Contact your local yoga studio to see if they offer a prenatal class, and chances are they do or can offer you special assistance and props to take a normal class without feeling like you can not keep up with the other students. 

Prenatal yoga has become quite a popular way for moms-to-be to multitask their workouts. Let the multitasking games begin. Yoga can also help you live more mindfully. Yoga teaches us to become better versions of ourselves and better parents. 

Yoga and meditation go hand in hand. Paying attention to your breathing is a great way to distract the mind from stress. Get your breathing down pat, and move on to scanning your body for areas that you might be holding stress and tension, then repeat a positive affirmation such as, “I am capable of handling my life and my stress.” Whatever resonates with you and puts positive thoughts into your head.

Schedule A Prenatal Massage 

The benefits of prenatal massage are not only physical but emotional and good for your baby, too. The number one benefit of any massage is stress relief. For a pregnant body, massage is one of the best things for it. 

Make sure that your therapist knows that you are pregnant, as there are specific protocols to follow and precautions that they must take. Areas like trigger points on the wrists and ankles must be avoided, and strenuous stretching should be postponed until after the baby has. 

As long as you have entered your second trimester and have not had any serious complications, your doctor should clear you for getting a massage. A professional prenatal massage is done with special props and pillows to help keep you comfortable. If you are not comfortable at any point during the massage, let your therapist know so that the proper adjustments can be made. 

Depending on how much you are showing, your therapist will most likely have you lying on your side rather than lying face down on your stomach. To lay as you usually would during a massage could hurt the baby; that much direct pressure on the stomach is not advised. 

Lavender Aromatherapy

For an all-natural approach to your stress, using lavender can help soothe and relax you. Aromatherapy offers the mind, body, and soul an olfactory vacation. Simply by inhaling the scent, your brain is told that every little thing will be alright. You can purchase and use lavender in multiple different forms, such as:

  • Essential oils– Not all essential oils are created equal. Many products out there are marketed as essential oils yet have a base oil or other unnecessary additives. Spend a few extra bucks for an all-natural lavender oil. 
  • Dried lavender– Dried lavender is lovely and can be a lighter version instead of using an essential oil that can be pretty potent.          

The first trimester of pregnancy has strict guidelines. While the baby is in its first developmental stages, it is critical to abstain from contact with potent substances, even if they are natural. When you enter your second trimester, your doctor should clear you to use essential oils. Always ask your doctor before starting use. 

Find lavender oils and dried flowers in your local health food or all-natural supplement shop. Bonus points if it is a locally grown lavender. 

Music Therapy

It is no secret that listening to certain music can help you relax. We may not always realize it. However, the right tempo soothes our stress and puts us at ease even in the background. 

According to a study done to see the effects of music therapy on pregnant women, quantifiable psychological benefits can be seen from exposing expecting mothers to music therapy for two weeks. Think what a few months can do if only two weeks showed that result level. A bonus for babies is that you can share your music therapy with them. The use of classical (and other types) music for exposure therapy. It is said that music therapy for unborn babies can help with healthy brain development

Group Effort: Getting a Support Circle

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, that village is also there to help you before the baby is born. Surrounding yourself with people that you can talk to is priceless therapy. When you need them most, friends and family are already there for you; you just have to let them help. They won’t know what you are going through until you tell them.

Talking to other expecting mothers about what you are going through will show you that you are not the only one. It is perfectly normal to have those feelings and not know how to process them. Mothers’ groups can be found online or at local monthly meetings. What is great about these groups is that your children can interact with one another. 

Keeping a journal is also a great way to get your thoughts and feelings out of your head. Getting your stress onto paper will help you feel like you are once again in control. It could even be interesting to look back on everything that you went through, as time passes so quickly and we often forget. Yet, looking back can remind us of how strong we are.

A support circle is just that. A ring of friends, family, and other expecting mothers that will surround you with a circle of love and support in your tough times. You shouldn’t have to struggle alone. Reach out; you will be glad that you did. You will feel lighter, happier, and ready to face the challenges.

Find A Healthy Hobby

Whether you are looking to replace old bad habits or want to fill up your time while on maternity leave, a new hobby can help ease some of the stress that you are feeling. 

  • Try new recipes: Tackle both healthy eating and healthy hobbies in one swing. Cooking can be incredibly therapeutic. Not to mention delicious and shareable. Food brings people together, so throw a lowkey mini dinner party to show off your new cooking skills. 
  • Learn a skill: If you have spare time and stress to spare, focus your attention on learning a new skill. When we focus the mind on a single task, such as learning, we can help redirect the brain’s energy into stressing out and turn it into something useful. Free online classes are a great place to start. Perhaps a new language that you can pass on to your child. Or, pick up a new marketable skill for making extra cash once you are ready to go back to work.
  • Get creative: If you have not been in the creative mood lately, perhaps it is time to stir things up. Take a walk through the craft store to see if you can get inspired. You can find everything from jewelry-making supplies to paint projects and so much more. 

Become a Nesting Pro

You are capable of so many things that you weren’t even aware of. Preparing for the baby’s arrival is an important job. However, there is no need to add extra stress to your life, scrambling to get it all done in time. You will be fine even if the crib isn’t assembled or the clothes haven’t been folded and placed in the dresser drawers. Everything will be fine.

Until you go into delivery, carve a few minutes each day to dedicate to getting the house ready for the baby’s arrival. This will rest the feeling of being overwhelmed with taking this task on all at once. You will sleep better at night knowing that you did the best you can for today and try again tomorrow.

Treat Yourself

Your baby will indeed be your whole world. And, at least until you get settled in, you may not be focusing much attention on yourself. While planning for the baby’s arrival, do not neglect your own needs. Taking time to take care of yourself and nourish yourself is essential for keeping your stress levels down and keeping you and the baby safe. Break the stress before it breaks you. 

Reach Out for Help

It’s natural to feel stressed and anxious while you’re pregnant. However, if it starts interfering with your day-to-day life, relationships, career, etc., in that case, you must seek professional help from a licensed therapist who can help you navigate the challenges you’re undergoing in a supportive and safe environment. 

You need to take care of your mental and physical health for your baby’s arrival. 

Written by Kasia Ciszewski, LPC on

Kasia is a licensed professional counselor servicing the Charleston area. She helps individuals heal, better understand their emotions, energize & become more aware of their inner strength. She specializes in helping teens, adults and seniors and has been able to regularly achieve impressive results for her clients throughout South Carolina. Instagram - Facebook - Pinterest - Twitter - Linkedin

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