Relaxation In Pregnancy – 10 Tips

Why relaxation reduces stress and anxiety during pregnancy?
It is important to relax during pregnancy. Here are 10 tips to help you. Women often feel anxious or stressed when pregnant. Being over anxious all the time the stress can affect the baby’s emotional development and wellbeing.

Pregnancy stress

Right from the start of your pregnancy an overload of the stress hormone – cortisol – can cross from the mother’s bloodstream via the placenta to the unborn baby. This is why it is important to learn techniques to destress and relax. Use these techniques from the beginning of pregnancy. Find out which relaxation strategies work for you.

Apply these de-stressers during your new life – Motherhood.

Prof. Robert Winston, Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College London.

What happens in the womb can last a lifetime

After working as a midwife in the UK and abroad in 4 African countries. I realised the importance of looking after a pregnant woman’s body, mind and understanding her social environment.

These aspects are so vital for mother and baby’s health and wellbeing. At the end of pregnancy is birth and a good outcome is most important for mother, baby and the family’s future.

So this was the beginning of my passion to help women at the most vulnerable stage of their lives. Reducing stress and anxiety through relaxation to improve the mother and baby’s wellbeing, which in turn will help reduce depression.

This passion led me to write an academic paper , which is internationally recognised.

The key is to reduce stress and anxieties when looking after a pregnant woman, because a happy Mum has a happy baby and a happy family. Here are some simple strategies to reduce anxieties and stress when Pregnant:

Exercise in Pregnancy
Walking is very good exercise during pregnancy – Photo Courtesy of FittaMamma

1. Exercise in Pregnancy

Walking and Swimming are great exercise when pregnant.

Exercises that are good for you, include walking, swimming, running, gym, aqua-natal classes, yoga and all will give you that feel good factor, reducing anxieties.

If you haven’t exercised before, then Yoga for pregnancy is gentle for your body.

Yoga and meditation are excellent together, especially when you learn relaxing breathing and visualisation techniques which are amazing to reduce stress.

TIP: Breathing exercises will help you to relax when you are in labour, stopping fear and anxiety. This will bring your body and mind into harmony.
Chat to someone

2. Chat to Someone

Always talk to your partner if you have worries as it will reduce your anxieties.

If you are worried about your baby, your health or a problem at home or work speak to your midwife for support and about support groups.

Talking to your partner about your worries can also make you both feel better, as he also may be worried about all the ongoing changes in your lives.

pregnancy massage for relaxation

3. Use Complementary Therapies

Complementary therapies have become very popular for women to use during pregnancy and also childbirth. It is important that any complementary therapy used is safe, so look for a midwife or therapist who has been trained specifically for pregnancy and child birth.

Use Complementary Therapies that have science to validate them.


Aromatherapy can help to maintain a normal life style by reducing anxiety and aiding relaxation, especially when pregnant.

More midwives are now practicing the use of aromatherapy massage and reflexology for the induction of labour which has proved to be more effective than the medicalised induction of labour.

It is important to note that Induction of labour is a medical treatment for specific medical reasons and should not be carried out by yourself. Using complementary therapy for Induction of labour should only be carried out by a professional.

Warning: Do Not use any essential oils neat on your skin, when pregnant

Visit our Pregnant? Natural aromatherapy oils for your skin care page for more information.

Many therapists, also have training in using essential oils for maternity.
What are essential oils? – the Science

Essential oils are natural, concentrated, fragrant oils which have been extracted from plants. They have a complex chemistry, each with unique properties, that if used correctly can be used for emotional and physical problems.

Amazingly new studies have shown that unborn babies have the ability to smell from 32-34 weeks gestation.

TIP: It is not advisable to blend your own essential oils if you are not trained. They appear similar, but have different Latin names and chemical structure. You must take caution as to which oils you choose.

Midwives & Aromatherapists, who have been trained in maternity aromatherapy, know the chemistry and the proportions of these powerful elements that are safe to use for you and your baby.

Foot and ankle massage for pregnancy


Reflexology has been shown to be better for induction of labour than medical intervention run efficiently. There are pressure points on your feet, that correspond to organs and tissues of your body.

TIP: Reflexology is different to a gentle foot massage. A foot and lower leg massage, before you go to bed averts leg cramps or restless legs, preventing a stressful night.
Acupuncture in pregnancy


Research has shown that acupuncture treatment may benefit anxiety disorders and symptoms of anxiety. Very fine needles are used in acupuncture, so if just the thought of this makes you anxious there is Shiatsu and Acupressure. Both Shiatsu and Chinese acupressure are techniques using the power of touch and using pressure.

Eat correctly during pregnancy

4. Healthy Diet

Many foods are good for your body, mind and baby. Some have properties that can calm, promote sleep, influence your mood and reduce anxieties. Sleeping is good for your health and wellbeing.


Eating the correct foods can improve your mood and your baby’s
Tryptophan, an amino acid, is converted into serotonin which regulates our moods and can help you sleep. This is found in nuts, seeds, fresh chicken, eggs and yoghurt. Bananas are also a good source of tryptophan. These foods are calming and help with sleeping.

Omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to lift your mood and promote sleep. These fatty acids are found in oily fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, pilchards and sardines Lactur carium, found in lettuce, sedates and promotes sleep. Have a salad with lettuce before you go to bed, if you are worried about sleeping.

TIP: Water – remember to drink enough 6-8 glasses or get to know your body. Get in tune with your body, so you can identify when you are thirsty.
Professor Vivette Glover MA, PhD, DSc is Professor in Perinatal Psychobiology, Imperial College LondonWATCH – Professor Vivette Glover talk about Pre-Birth and the influences on the the Foetus/Fetus

We are what we eat during pregnancy – Epigenetic’s

Looking after a pregnant woman’s emotional state, as well as her physical state is important for her baby’s outcome”

Feet up

5. Put Your Feet Up

Firstly remember that exercise is important but so is rest.

Interestingly, resting is one of the most important things you can practice, as this is relaxation time when you can get in tune with your body. When you are tired – Rest and when you are Very tired- Go to Bed.

At 24 weeks your unborn baby can hear, so chat to your baby and start getting to know your baby’s unique movements. (Count the Kicks)

TIP: It is difficult to rest when you have other children. Ask your partner, grand parents or a friend to help look after the children for a few hours so you can get your feet up.
Antenatal classes

6. Antenatal Classes

Learn more about labour, birth and postnatally at antenatal classes. Check out to see if there are free classes near you. Going to classes and meeting other future parents is a wonderful way to meet new friends and build your support system.

Visit the Hospital or Midwifery birthing unit that you are going to and check out how far it is from your house/flat, so you have enough petrol in your car! This can help to reduce anxieties and relax you when you know where you are going to have your baby.

It will also help you to write your birth plan. Talk to your midwife if you have an overwhelming fear of birth.

If you are having a planned caesarean section the midwives will discuss with you what will happen.

TIP: Write down before hand all your questions, as baby brain may kick in and you may forget a vital question.
Baby on-board

7. Travelling

Commuting can be very stressful for pregnant women and as you advance in pregnancy create more discomforts of pregnancy, such as back pain, very tired legs and feet, swollen ankles etc.
Ask for a seat on transport if you are not offered one – most people need a gentle nudge!

Ask your boss if you can leave before rush hour starts and avoid the added anxieties of commuting.

TIP: On the London underground you can obtain a Baby on board badge, so it reminds people to give up their seat.
Finances during pregnancy

8. Money Matters

Having a baby can be expensive, but making a list of what you really need is very helpful and it is surprising the items that you can borrow from family and friends.

See that you get all you are entitled to for maternity leave and pay.

TIP: Buy second hand items. NCT have Nearly New Sales and there could be a Mum2Mum market sale near you.
Pregnancy treats

9. Treats for You


Treat yourself. You Deserve it. Have a massage.

Have a small piece of DARK chocolate (85% cocoa or higher) every day for 2 weeks. A study has demonstrated that dark chocolate increases serotonin levels which improves moods and decreases stress levels.

Hire or go to a very funny Movie.

Meet up with friends and laugh a lot.

Most of all relax as much as possible.

TIP: Buy some bright nail varnish if you can’t afford a pedicure and get you partner to paint your toe nails, if you can’t reach your toes!

10. Extreme anxieties, Depression, Support Groups

Being overly anxious and stressed all the time is unusual and only affects a very few pregnant women, but can cause problems. If you talk to your midwife or GP, they will help you, by referring you to a support group, counsellor or a psychotherapist.

Please get help when you are pregnant, as all the support can be set up for when you have given birth.

If you are taking medication for depression, talk to your midwife or GP if you are worried about any affects it has on your baby, but don’t suddenly stop your medication.

Massage and aromatherapy can be very useful to alleviate stress and anxieties. Massage during pregnancy will not only benefit you, but your partner as well. This will make them feel part of the whole pregnancy and make you feel that you are not doing this on your own.

Links that may help you
  1. Complementary  Therapies in Clinical Practice (2006) 12, 48-54 Aromatherapy and massage for antenatal anxiety: Its effect on the foetus Janet Bastard1, Denise Tiran2 1″KentWomen’sWing, NHSTrust, FrognalLane,Sidcup,Kent,DAl46LT,UK
  2. University of Greenwich, London ond Director, Expectancy Ltd, UK 2. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2014 Jan; 28(1):25-35. doi: 10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2013.08.017. Epub 2013 Sep 18. Maternal depression, anxiety and stress during pregnancy and child outcome; what needs to be done. Glover V, Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Campus, Du Cane Road, London W12 0NN, UK. Electronic address: [email protected]
  3. What happens in the womb can last a lifetime
  4. Applied nursing research: ANR (Impact Factor: 0.73). 08/2010; 23(3):153-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.apnr.2008.08.001 Source: PubMed
  5. Effectiveness of foot and hand massage in postcesarean pain control in a group of Turkish pregnant women Nuriye Degirmen, PhDa, Nebahat Ozerdogan, PhDa, Deniz Sayiner, PhDa,Nedime Kosgeroglu, PhDa, Unal Ayranci, MDb,⁎ a Nursing College, Osmangazi University, 26480 Meselik-Eskisehir, b TurkeybMedico-Social Center, Osmangazi University, 26480 Meselik-Eskisehir, Turkey
  6. Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD005123. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005123.pub3. Antenatal perineal massage for reducing perineal trauma Beckmann MM, Stock OM. Antenatal perineal massage for reducing perineal trauma. Cochrane
  7. Journal of Physiotherapy, Volume 59, Issue 2, June 2013, Pages 109–116, doi:10.1016/S1836-9553(13)70163-2 Massage reduced severity of pain during labour: a randomised trial Rubneide Barreto Silva Gallo1, Licia Santos Santana1, Cristine Homsi Jorge Ferreira2, Alessandra Cristina Marcolin1, Omero Benedicto PoliNeto3, Geraldo Duarte1, Silvana Maria Quintana1, ,1 Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics 2 Department of Health Sciences Applied to the Locomotor Apparatus 3 Department of Surgery and Anatomy Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto/SP, Brazil Available online 10 May 2013 Open Access funded by Australian Physiotherapy Association
  8. DOI: Published Online: September 09, 2014 Reducing post-dates induction numbers with post-dates complementary therapy clinics Tara Pauley Research Midwife, Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust. Rebecca Percival Practice Development Midwife, Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust.
  9. Lavender oil and pregnancy Author: Robert Tisserand (Blog)
  10. Wonders of the womb by Charlotte Harding MailOnline 27 December 2005
  11. Reflexology administered to women in labor. Reflexology Research a compilation of current research in the field. February 19 2012
  12. The Power Of Pressure Sea-Band Ltd, Lancaster Road, Hinckley, Leicestershire, LE10 0AW, England.
  13. First evidence that yoga can help keep expectant mothers stress free “Effects of Antenatal Yoga on Maternal Anxiety and Depression: A Randomized Controlled Trial” in published in the Journal Depression and Anxiety on 1 May 2014.
  14. Stress in the womb
  15. Oxytocin: Bonding, Birth, and Trust Caitlin Kirkwood Caitlin Kirkwood is a freelance science writer and PhD candidate in neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh.  Her translational research focuses on molecular mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease and psychosis. In addition to contributing to, she has written for Scientific American and Being Human.
  16. Embrace hugging: Daily cuddles can combat infections and lowers risk of heart disease by Roger Dobson for The Mail on Sunday10 November 2012
  17. Read more:–good-you.html#ixzz46ew3cT1D  Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook Read more:–good-you.html#ixzz46ew3cT1D  Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook


  1. What happens in the womb can last a lifetime
  2. Epigenetics: What Makes Us Who We Are? – Begin Before Birth
  3. Pre-Birth – Professor Vivette Glover MA, PhD, DSc is Professor in Perinatal Psychobiology, Imperial College London

Enjoy being pregnant.



Breathing exercises
Tips & Advice 17 Aug

6 Benefits of Breathing Exercises

by The Honest Midwife
Breathing Exercises: 5 Benefits of using breathing techniques for mother and her unborn baby, plus 1 breathing exercises in labour. These will give emotional support during pregnancy.
Read more
Go to post
Mothering Sunday Grandma with Grandchildren
Blog 26 Mar

The History of Mothering Sunday (Mother’s Day) and “going a-mothering!”

by The Honest Midwife
Giving thanks to the incredible women in your life on a day of thanks and appreciation is just the best. Mothering Sunday and Mother’s Day both have different origins; although…
Read more
Go to post
Lip balm being applied to prevent dry lips
Blog 12 Dec

7 Facts! How to Prevent dry lips and chapped lips.

by The Honest Midwife
Natural Lip Balms are so important to prevent dry lips for all the family – women, men and children – as our lips are exposed to the elements all year…
Read more
Go to post

About the Author

About the Author, Jan Bastard

BSc. (Hons) complementary therapy/aromatherapy, RN, RM, Anaesthetic Diploma, IAIM.

For over forty years, and over two continents, Jan has worked tirelessly to help mothers have a positive birthing experience. She is also a mother and grandmother.