Relaxed Mind = Relaxed
The effects of stress
during pregnancy are inconsistent
There are some evidence
suggesting that stress during pregnancy can cause
lower birth-weight babies and children developing
behavioral problems. On the flip side contrary views
suggest that since the human productive system appears
to be remarkably resilient in its ability to endure
the vagaries of human emotions, no amount of stress
can harm the fetus. In general premature births and
low birth weight because of stress effects is extremely
minimal in incidence, if at all. Since there is no
conclusive evidence indicating possible harm to the
baby, you still need to manage stress during pregnancy
for your own well being.
• Stress is very much a part of most people's
• Stress can be encountered in everyday hassles
like bills to pay, long queues or traffic or poor
• Stress during pregnancy can be chronic as in situations
of domestic abuse.
• Stress during pregnancy can be acute as in
the death of a loved one.
• Stress during pregnancy can lead to harmful
tendencies such as drinking.
• Stress during pregnancy can be constructive
- you feel exhilaration and positively challenged.
• Too much stress during pregnancy though leads
to mental and physical ailments. You will no longer
feel charged but bogged down instead.
• Stressed out people often get angry quickly
and fall sick easily
Often we can't tell if we are suffering from stress.
The way you live and your reactions to everyday situations
can affect your stress level. Do you sleep well or
do you worry about your work and family, health, money
and other everyday concerns. If yes you could be stressed.
• Reduced concentration or focus
• Irritation or feeling hassled easily
• Disturbed eating patterns i.e. loss of appetite
• Insomnia and fatigue
• Feeling anxious all the time
• Body aches and headaches
• Inability to relax
• High blood pressure
lowers the libido in both sexes and may affect
infertility. A woman who is highly stressed may
ovulate irregularly while in some men there is a
decline in sperm production when unduly stressed.
Stress can cause a cycle - not conceiving when you
want to can stress out the couple and in turn make
conception more tedious. Research has likened infertility
related stress to life threatening illnesses such
as heart disease and cancer!
The Relax Technique
Today, managing your life means managing the stress
that comes with it. During pregnancy it helps if
you are relaxed. You will have to deal with fewer
aches and ailments, get to sleep better and feel
less tired, be less dependent on artificial stimulants
and generally be more alert and efficient. Most
importantly, you will enjoy your pregnancy more.
• If you feel stressed and find relief when
you receive help or support, then by all means accept
the help that is coming your way. Grab the offers
from friends, family and colleagues and lessen your
work load whether at home or at work. Delegate or
eliminate some of your work responsibilities. List
the number of tasks for the day and cross each task
off your list as you finish it.
Take time out. Spend time away from pressure and
activity without feeling guilty. Steal moments and
relax in a tub or under a shower, guilt-free. Devote
some planned time to music or a book or magazine,
TV or any other activity you enjoy.
• Share your worries with someone: your partner,
a friend or a professional counselor. Talking helps;
talk about how you feel. Talking with your doctor
for instance will also help monitor your general
• Exercising helps. Go for brisk walks in
the fresh air. Exercise helps the body release endorphins,
the natural 'feel good' chemicals, which also energizes
you. You basically get a chance to unwind and reflect.
• Get a massage from your partner or arrange
a masseur to come home. Massage helps to remove
the knots from tensed muscles, especially those
around the neck, shoulders, back and head. A good
massage meant for pregnant women combined with aromatherapy
if that can be arranged will help. (Check on aromatherapy
oils which are safe during pregnancy first.)
• Finally don't ignore your diet. What you
eat has an effect on how you feel. Eat fresh fruits
and vegetables and avoid snacking on high energy
foods such as biscuits and sweets. They are quick
energy fixers, relieving you for 10 mins or so but
when your sugar levels take a dip afterwards you
are left feeling no better off, lethargic even.
Energy levels that go yo-yoing worsen the mood swings
you are more prone to now. It helps to have several
small healthy meals to maintain your blood-sugar
at steady levels. Eating smaller meals instead of
three larger ones will also help control pregnancy
• If you are still working make it a practice
to put some time aside for yourself. By doing this
you will be able to cope with work, your partner
and your daily routine without feeling hassled.
If work situation gets stressful that you find it
hard to handle, talk to your employer about part-time
schedules or maternity options.
• Once a day for 10 minutes or more, focus on
relaxation. Lie back in a chair or on your side on
the bed with pillows supporting your neck and shoulders.
Take slow deep breaths.
Think about something pleasant with your eyes shut.
Block out your surroundings, the world at large and
just focus on pleasantries or your baby. Contract
and relax every part of your body.
• Focus on how your body feels. Start with your
toes first; squeeze your toes and then let go. Feel
the tension seep out of your body. Do the same with
your calves, thighs, pelvic floor, buttocks and so
on until you reach your forehead. Stay in this state,
ensuring all your muscles are relaxed and at the same
time stay focused on your imagined thought. The aim
is to prevent worrying thoughts from entering your
mind. Surrender yourself to tranquility.
• It may not come easily but learning to relax
is beneficial and it is something that requires practice
and dedication. Make it a habit to spend quiet time
away from everything else.