With this in mind let’s look at how to manage stress in pregnancy. Antenatal teacher Heather Wood of Thula Baby Centre, Mouille Point points out that most women suffer from a degree of stress in pregnancy – “The most common stressors are renovating and moving house; Mums running their own businesses with a lot to juggle, and not giving themselves enough maternity leave; concerns about the well-being of the baby; concerns about how unpredictable the birth can be; worries about family/in-laws interfering.”
The first thing to know is that not all stress is bad for your baby. Some stress like excitement and anticipation may be good for our babies – we call this eustress. Some negative stress, whilst felt by your baby will not cause long term damage as it resolves quickly, like a fender bender or the pressure of a work deadline. But toxic stress is damaging for our babies’ long-term health - resulting in a child who is hypersensitive to small stressors with an inappropriate response. Toxic stress is – usually inescapable (you feel like you can’t do anything about it), long term and mostly interpersonal – e.g. marital discord, conflict with an employer or physical and emotional abuse.
It is this toxic stress that you need to manage carefully. These are the top 5 Babies R Us tips for managing stress in pregnancy:
- Share your situation with a trusted person – friend or therapist. Just sharing will decrease the stress
- Find non-judgemental support
- Change the things you can control – leave the job or end the relationship if necessary.
- Accept the things you can’t change but get support.
- Make sure you have healthy stress relieving habits in your daily life – mindfulness meditation or exercise are good examples.
Nurturing a new life comes with its responsibilities and you have the responsibility to yourself and your baby to manage your stress in pregnancy.
For more information on managing stress in pregnancy, read ch 3 Pregnancy Sense (Faure, Searle & Wood)