While pregnancy can be wonderfully exciting and spiritually fulfilling, it’s also a potentially very stressful time in the life of a mama-to-be. There are a thousand things to consider, from financial pressure and preparing your home for the arrival of your brand new baby, to deciding on your parenting style.
Then there’s the added strain from pregnancy hormones, swelling, backaches, and whole host of new and unusual physical and emotional experiences. And that only describes a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy; many expectant parents are simultaneously navigating issues like infertility, high-risk pregnancies, familial pressures, and health complications.
Stress triggers cortisol and other stress hormones to kick in and initiate the fight-or-flight response. A little stress passes quickly and easily, and the body’s stress management system is designed to keep us safe from harm. However, excessive ongoing stress may produce risky symptoms like inflammation and high blood pressure, so making a concerted effort to manage stress during pregnancy is essential.
Our best advice: don’t stress out over stress! It’s such a natural response to a life-changing event. When it comes to stress, prevention is the best medicine, so regularly scheduled self-care time is ideal. With everything that’s going on, it’s easy to forget that these nine months are the last opportunity that an expectant mom has to take time for herself without coordinating with her partner, family, or babysitter – at least for a while.
Here’s what three of our brilliant Bambo Nature ambassadors told us about stressing and de-stressing during their pregnancies:
I had two really rough pregnancies, so early on I had to dig deep to find different ways to ease my mind. I started teaching yoga about four years ago and I learned to use yoga breathing techniques to help calm my body. In yoga you practice deep breathing techniques beginning in the navel and moving upward and outward.
Moving my body is something that gives me a lot of comfort, so to maintain that during my pregnancy through yoga was very helpful. I would find places (on my bed, my yoga mat, or in the studio) and simply get in a comfortable position, close my eyes, and spend five to ten minutes practicing breathing techniques. When you set time aside to do nothing but breathe and be with yourself and acknowledge your emotions, it’s very empowering.
I used several resources to incorporate meditation into my existing yoga practice, including one that I found on Instagram: @expectful. You can download meditations specifically for pregnancy. They incorporate the baby into meditations, which is especially great for moms who have a hard time connecting spiritually to their baby during a difficult pregnancy. Meditation also helped me to feel in tune with the changes my body was going through.
My best advice is to look at what your passions are in life to find your own unique de-stressing techniques. If your passion is being outside, start there. Do what feeds your soul. Yoga was already something that I enjoyed and that nourished me so it became a natural outlet.
I found out I was pregnant with Lila during the most financially burdensome time in my life. My husband and I were engaged and putting all of our income and saving towards our wedding and new life together. I was about to finish college but I had decided to take a semester off and quit my very comfortable day job to look for work in my field of study. About a month in to this transition we found out we were pregnant with Lila.
I had been obsessed with yoga and healthy eating, but suddenly I was so fatigued from pregnancy that I could barely get out of bed to take a walk in the evening. I craved bread, candy, and soda – basically all the things I never normally ate. My husband had just started a new job, and I had decided to start my own business online which was a huge project to take on whilst four months pregnant.
My advice to someone looking to de-stress during pregnancy is to pick something that you like to do by yourself and make time to do it once a week. You can go to the movies, go to the beach, or take a weekly class. These are the last months when you can leave the house alone without having to coordinate with your husband or someone else.
A few times a month I would visit the spa for the day. I had terrible nausea my entire pregnancy and it was a chore to keep a meal down. On my spa days, I would nibble on fruits and sip herbal teas while enjoying the amenities. Those were the most blissful days of pregnancy for me.
I didn’t read a single parenting or baby book and I don’t regret it. I think that was actually one of the best decisions I made. I didn’t want to try to follow a rulebook or psych myself out over nothing. If I had a question I would ask my doctor and let her answer it for me.
I have two children and with each pregnancy was different. With my first pregnancy, the main stress was the fear of the unknown. I would read an article of a horribly sad story or scenario and worry about that happening to my baby and me. The other big stress was finances. My husband and I were definitely still in the “hustle” stage of life and our pregnancy was unplanned.
The second time I was pregnant, my stress levels were much lower. I knew that meeting my new baby would be worth all the challenges of pregnancy and childbirth. So, choosing joy and hope over worry was easier to do.
During my pregnancies I made sure to make time for meditation: I would hold my thoughts accountable to truth and let my body rest. In moments where I found myself becoming stressed, I would remove myself from the situation. Hormones are very powerful and while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding they are not always consistent or tame! Most of the time our stress is triggered by unrealistic and even false thoughts.
My best advice for dealing with stress is to seek a spiritual truth. When you can find your eternal purpose, it is easier to trust that in the long run everything is going to be ok. My belief in God gave me the most peace.
Also, my husband, and a few of my closest friends and family were always there for me if I needed perspective. Sometimes in the moment of stress, your fears feel very real – remember that you’re going to make it and your going be an amazing mother.