Relax! Your Baby Will Thank You!
Part 2 of a 2-part series.
Pregnant and Stressed? How to Tell continued...
Among the most important decisions, he says, is to pay attention to good
"Not eating well during pregnancy is a primary way to increase your
stress load and whatever effects that may have on your baby," says
Not only is it important to eat nutritiously, he says, but also to eat
frequent, small meals.
"If you skip breakfast, for example, you can develop accelerated ketosis
[a fat burning process seen in starvation] which can be very stressful on your
baby. So something as simple as eating breakfast is a great way to reduce some
of the risks related to stress," says Hobel.
He says smoking can also place undue stress on both mother and baby.
"The body has a very potent stress reaction to even a single cigarette.
So by not smoking during pregnancy you automatically reduce the risk of many
stress-related effects on your baby," says Hobel.
Likewise, he says, avoiding excessive travel -- with risks that include
fatigue, dehydration, and missing meals -- is another way to protect your baby,
particularly during the first trimester.
"You don't have to avoid travel, but you should pay a little extra
attention to things like getting more rest, making sure to drink enough fluids
if you are flying, and carrying nutritious snacks for sustenance during the
trip," he says.
Also important, he says, is to tend to any infections that occur during
pregnancy, including gum disease or UTIs (urinary tract infections), both of
which can add more stress to your load.
Pregnancy Stress Protection: What to Do
While a little bit of precaution goes a long way, as the saying goes,
"life happens." And that means that no matter how we try to avoid it,
some stress is bound to creep into our lives.
When it does, most women can diffuse the effects if they have a good support
system in place.
"It can be a spouse, your mother, your best friend, your clergyman --
anyone that you can talk to and seek comfort in, is going to help alleviate
your stress," says Young.
He says studies show that just voicing your stressful feelings is a
tremendous source of relief, particularly if your stress is linked to worries
about your pregnancy.
"Every pregnant woman has some stressful thoughts and fears during
pregnancy. But if you talk it out, voice your concerns, tell someone how you
feel, you release that stress and both you and your baby can benefit," says
Rebarber agrees and adds that learning to delegate and to embrace the
changes that pregnancy brings are two more important ways to reduce stress.
"You have to slow down just a little bit and find a small window of
opportunity within each day to take a deep breath, relax, and do something
comforting for yourself -- all of which can help keep tension from
building," says Rebarber.