10 Ways to Fight Stress during Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time to pamper yourself, but you may be feeling too stressed to enjoy it. Try these simple techniques for bringing more balance to your life.

While pregnant with baby number three, I had a hard time feeling relaxed. I couldn’t find a comfortable sleeping position, and my growing baby’s favorite activity involved doing gymnastics with my bladder as her springboard. But pregnancy shouldn’t be uncomfortable all the time—here are a few simple tips to help you enjoy your pregnancy.

The Three-Minute Rule

I’ll admit I complained any chance I got to my husband about being pregnant. Before long it seemed he stopped listening, which of course frustrated me and made me complain more. Then we came up with the three-minute rule: before we went to bed, I had three minutes to tell him about everything that hurt, and he would listen to every ill. I never made the full three minutes, but having the time helped me not to complain—or think about the discomfort—for the rest of the day. (Plus, I slept better.)

Give Yourself a Facial

You don’t have to go to the spa to get a good facial—just to your kitchen. Tracy M. Luchenbill, the spa director at Journeys Spa (located at the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort on St. Thomas), knows how to pamper clients. At home, she recommends using plain yogurt as a facial cleanser, a paste of baking soda and water as an exfoliant, and plain yogurt mixed with cornmeal as a body scrub. For dry skin, Luchenbill suggests mixing one avocado and two teaspoons extra virgin olive oil until smooth and applying to your face. After 10 minutes, rinse the mask off with warm water.

Go for a Pedicure

You may not be able to see your feet, but a foot massage and pretty toenails might be just the de-stresser you need. Luchenbill reminds you to go after your first trimester and to tell your nail technician that you’re pregnant, since certain deep massage techniques and essential oils are not appropriate for pregnancy. If you choose to include fragrant, essential oils as part of your treatment, Luchenbill recommends soothing oils such as lavender, rose, or chamomile.

Three Deep Breaths

Meditation can help you positively focus your thoughts. If you’ve never meditated before, Thomas Crum, author of several books, including Three Deep Breaths: Finding Power and Purpose in a Stressed-Out World, gives a simple technique that you can integrate into your day. Practice breathing deeply: inhale by filling the belly first then the chest, exhale first out of the belly, then the chest. Once you feel comfortable, use the three-deep-breath strategy. For the first breath, what Crum calls, the Centering Breath, reenergize by doing one deep, calming breath. For the second breath, or the Possibility Breath, think of what you want to be, for instance a good mother, more organized, more confident. Finally, with the last breath, or the Discovery Breath, think about all of the possibilities in your life, what your new little one will be like, whether she’ll have your eyes, whether he’ll have your taste in music.

As a father, Crum understands that we often get caught up during the day and can’t find time to meditate, so he suggests triggers, or anchors, to help us remember. For instance, don’t just say that you’re going to meditate before you shower, have the shower handle as a trigger and do your three deep breaths before you get in. The steering wheel might be another anchor—every time you get into the car and touch the wheel, that’s your reminder to breathe in deeply three times.

Crum compares the cumulative effect of these short meditation sessions to an aerobic workout. “Just like we know that you can have three, 10-minute aerobic sessions throughout the day that add up to a good physical workout, with this meditation process you can align yourself and relax in multiple, short sessions during the day without ever closing your eyes.”

Try a News Fast

Miriam Belov, creator of The Wellness Agenda: Creative Concentration based in New York City, has been advising her clients about mind/body health for over 30 years. She recommends pregnant women treat themselves to a news fast.

“We’re bombarded by news 24/7,” says Belov. “Often there’s very little positive news.” She explains that during pregnancy you experience a heightened sensitivity. While you don’t have to ignore what’s going on in the world, you don’t have to hear about it all the time. “I truly believe those nine months of pregnancy are crucial for the fetus. Why aggravate yourself by listening to the news?” You may also want to include in your media fast television shows that make you anxious such as CSI or ER. Chick flick, anyone?

Learn to Say No

“One of the greatest challenges to mothers today is prioritizing and saying no to lesser priorities,” explains Bria Simpson, a parenting coach, mother of three, and the author of The Balanced Mom: Raising Your Kids Without Losing Your Self.

“Whenever someone asks something of you, tell them you’ll think about it and get back to them,” says Simpson. “In the next 24 hours, ask yourself—’Is this request a top priority? And does it help me maintain a healthy balance?’ If the answer is no, say no. Become a master mom at saying no, now, and your journey into motherhood will be much more enjoyable!”

Surround Yourself with Beauty

Surround yourself with things that make you feel peaceful, such as your favorite clothing, pictures on the wall, perfumes, or incense, recommends Belov. I have a bowl of my favorite potpourri on a table next to my front door. When I walk in, I smell whiffs of the Mediterranean Sea, which help me de-stress.

Keep your Dates Alive

You may not feel too sexy at 36-weeks pregnant, but Simpson advises you continue going on dates with your spouse. “Every week, spend time just the two of you—go to dinner, catch a movie, or take a walk,” she says. “It will be much easier for your couple relationship to thrive post-baby if you’ve maintained a close relationship during your pregnancy.”

Take Time for Yourself

All of the experts, including Belov and Crum, suggest that pregnancy is the perfect time to indulge. Record the simple moments and your reflections about motherhood in a journal. Create some memories—and relax—by taking a day off from work to meet a friend, go see a movie, or take a walk in the park. “You will be all-consumed in care giving shortly,” relates Simpson. “Build up some good reserves by pampering yourself now!”

Create your Own Relaxation Technique

Whether it’s pregnancy yoga, a trip to your favorite hairstylist, or curling up with a good book, create your own relaxation strategy. Just like every woman’s experience in pregnancy is unique, so too will your method to relax. Try one tip each week to see if you find something that works for you. Not only will you be helping yourself by learning how to relax, your pregnancy might go by faster, too.

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