Chill Out, Mama! Four Tips on Managing Stress in Pregnancy

One of the best gifts you can give your baby and yourself is a calm, clear mind and a relaxed body and nervous system. Why? Your unborn baby receives chemical messages through the bloodstream through that amazing organ we call the placenta. It’s really a neglected little miracle, that placenta; it provides nourishment for your developing baby for months on end. Make sure that the hormones you send to your little one are mainly loving and peaceful ones. This is not meant to give anyone a guilt trip! Au contraire, this brief article will clue you in on a few small steps you can take to help manage stress while expecting.

1. Physical Exercise. Getting regular exercise is a major stress buster. I know, many of us hate to work out at gyms or jog on sidewalks. Perhaps there’s even a dusty exercise contraption lurking in your garage or closet. One way to get around this is to enlist a friend to join you, to keep each other accountable. Find something you like to do—maybe it’s swimming or rollerskating (check with your health care provider before beginning any new exercise regime, just to be sure). You don’t have to take a prenatal yoga class to be fit; just be creative and have fun.

2. Dietary Supplements. Here in Southern California, we are blessed to have access to a wide variety of health food products. And thanks to the Internet, you can find quality dietary supplements wherever you happen to live. Make sure you’re getting enough B-complex and C vitamins. (Both are water soluble which means that you need a fresh supply every day; that also means that it’s much harder to overdose on them since the excess gets secreted when you urinate.) You’ve probably read about the importance of taking enough folic acid during acid (it’s one of the B vitamins). You may not have heard that we use up more B-complex vitamins when under stress (as well as while taking oral contraceptives).

3. Herbs. When correctly used, herbs can be of great benefit for pregnancy, birth and lactation—and in any phase of life. First, a word of caution: it is important to check with a knowledgeable professional if you are unsure about which herbs to use and how much. Herbs like valerian, for instance, can be quite potent. Generally speaking, however, store-bought teas are carefully labeled and packaged in safe doses. Look for a nice, soothing tea with chamomile, lemon verbena and orange peel. If you find one with peppermint, that’s a plus since the mint can calm an upset tummy. Be sure to avoid herbs that have a steroidal effect (like licorice and ginseng) and anything that causes uterine contractions, especially if you have had repeat miscarriages or cervical problems.

4. Roomy Scheduling. Does it ever seem like your day is jam-packed with activities and deadlines? Instead of rushing from one appointment to the next, try to allow for extra time in between. That way, if there’s a traffic jam or some other unexpected foul-up, you still have moments to spare. Sure, we all want to feel productive, and yet, if you are carrying a baby, you’re indeed re-productive. Your body is already working hard to bring new life into the world, so be easy on yourself. Give yourself big gaps in the day to just BE. Trust me when I say that you are doing a huge service to yourself and your baby.

Again, YOU are your baby’s greatest asset. Who else will be there when your child falls and scrapes her knee? Who else will understand him and feel as close to him as you? Pregnancy is a time to celebrate new life, to connect with the awesomeness of Creation. This is also an opportunity to learn new ways to nurture your self. Reducing stress, using any of the tips above, is one way that you take care of your own needs, to the benefit of your family’s future.

Christy Callahan, M.A. is a writer, educator and life coach with a gifting for nurturing babies and parents from pre-conception to early childhood. The scope of her Prenatal Coaching practice, http://www.prenatalcoaching.com, includes work with generational patterns, life challenges and future goals. Christy also coaches health practitioners, including childbirth educators, doulas and midwives-to-be. Contributing Writer for the award-winning website Helpguide.org, she began her study of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology in 2002, at the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute. Christy is married and has a son who was born at home.

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