Why reduce stress and anxiety during pregnancy?
Women often feel anxious or stressed when pregnant. When being over anxious all the time the stress can affect the baby’s emotional development and wellbeing. This begins 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. Use these techniques from the beginning of pregnancy. Find out which strategies work for you.
Apply these de-stressers during your new life – Motherhood.
What happens in the womb can last a lifetime
Prof. Robert Winston, Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College London.
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 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
1. Exercise in Pregnancy
Exercise releases happy hormones – endorphins, dopamine and serotonin, but listen to your body as too much exercise may have a negative affect.Regular exercise and relaxation techniques increases the blood supply to the skin, which will help the suppleness of the skin.
Walking is very good exercise during pregnancy Photo Courtesy of FittaMamma
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.
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.
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:
Massage is a great way to reduce all those anxieties and ease the tension from muscles. Seek out a midwife or massage therapist who has been trained in pregnancy massage, they will specifically tailor the massage to your needs.
A back and shoulder massage, hand and arm massage, foot and leg massage are all very relaxing and besides feeling pampered is an amazing way to reduce stress.
TIP: Instead of going to a Spa, save money by buying, natural skincare products, specifically blended for pregnancy and enjoy a massage at home.
TIP: If you want to save pennies then you can buy massage oils and ask your partner for a massage.
Massaging the Perineum
The skin that will stretch as your baby is born (perineum) is a very important area to massage, by getting to know and preparing your body you can have more confidence and be less anxious to deliver your baby. Studies have identified that you are less likely to tear and your recovery 3 months after the birth is much more rapid than if compared to those who have not massaged the perineum.
Massage during Labour and Late Pregnancy
Pregnancy massage is great for relaxation reducing stress and anxiety.
Massage used during labour, can reduce women’s needs to use pain relief, aids relaxation and enables women to feel more in control during labour. Midwives have embraced this choice for women that makes them feel fabulous and cared for, plus having the enormous benefits for you and your baby’s wellbeing by reducing pain and anxiety, increases contractions, speeds up labour and supports labouring women. TIP: Very importantly the massage during labour gives your partner a role during labour making him or her feel part of the birth, improving bonding.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are some “happy” properties in foods:
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.
We are what we eat during pregnancy – Epigenetic’s
Looking after a pregnant womans emotional state, as well as her physical state is important for her baby’s outcome”
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
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 the ideal 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.
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 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.
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 there seat.
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.
9. Treats for You
Treat yourself. You Deserve it. Have a massage.
- Dark Chocolate is good for you it increases serotonin levels which improves moods and decreases stress levels
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.
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.
TIP: Some NHS maternity units have complementary therapy clinics for pregnant women with specially trained midwives to help you.
WATCH – Creating Secure Infant Attachment – Helping Your Baby Get the Best Possible Start in Life
This 22-minute video teaches parents how to create a secure attachment bond with their baby and overcome challenges that make connecting difficult.
Enjoy being pregnant.
A bonus link for your partner: Birthing for blokes
Links that may help you:
East Anglia Specific:
- 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
- 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]
- What happens in the womb can last a lifetime http://www.beginbeforebirth.org/for-schools/films#womb
- Applied nursing research: ANR (Impact Factor: 0.73). 08/2010; 23(3):153-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.apnr.2008.08.001 Source: PubMed
- 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
- 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
- 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
- DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12968/bjom.2014.22.9.630 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.
- Lavender oil and pregnancy Author: Robert Tisserand (Blog) http://roberttisserand.com/2011/07/lavender-oil-and-pregnancy/
- Wonders of the womb by Charlotte Harding MailOnline 27 December 2005
- Reflexology administered to women in labor. Reflexology Research a compilation of current research in the field. February 19 2012 https://reflexologyresearch.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/reflexology-administered-to-women-in-labor/
- The Power Of Pressure Sea-Band Ltd, Lancaster Road, Hinckley, Leicestershire, LE10 0AW, England. http://www.ebvertrieb.de/downloads/PowerofPressure_eng.pdf
- First evidence that yoga can help keep expectant mothers stress free http://bit.ly/1mle0E1 “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. http://bit.ly/1mle0E114. Stress in the womb http://www.beginbeforebirth.org/the-pregnancy/emotional-state15. 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 BrainFacts.org, she has written for Scientific American and Being Human.
- http://www.brainfacts.org/sensing-thinking-behaving/mood/articles/2014/oxytocin-bonding-birth-and-trust/ Embrace hugging: Daily cuddles can combat infections and lowers risk of heart disease by Roger Dobson for The Mail on Sunday10 November 2012
- Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2230972/Embrace-hugging–good-you.html#ixzz46ew3cT1D Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2230972/Embrace-hugging–good-you.html#ixzz46ew3cT1D Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
- What happens in the womb can last a lifetime http://www.beginbeforebirth.org/for-schools/films#womb
- Epigenetics: What Makes Us Who We Are? – Begin Before Birth http://www.beginbeforebirth.org/for-schools/films#womb
- Pre-Birth – Professor Vivette Glover MA, PhD, DSc is Professor in Perinatal Psychobiology, Imperial College London