Stress & relaxation strategies in pregnancy

Whilst some degree of stress in our lives is normal, once this stress starts taking over, this can become distress and impact on your ability to function at your full capacity.

Understanding stress

Often stress is associated with a feeling of losing control or not having the resources or ability to manage challenges that lie ahead.

Factors that may increase stress

Some factors that may increase stress in pregnancy may include:

  • having a stressful or unplanned pregnancy
  • having a prior negative pregnancy, birth or early parenthood experiences (such as inadequate sleep, breastfeeding difficulties, or an unsettled baby)
  • experiencing complications in the pregnancy
  • being a single parent or adolescent may also cause you to feel more stressed or overwhelmed, as you contemplate how you will manage
  • experiencing relationship difficulties with your partner can also greatly increase your feelings of distress and concern for the relationship as well as your feeling of security for your growing family.

There are a range of relaxation strategies that can be helpful and assist in alleviating your feelings of stress or apprehension.

Relaxation strategies for stress during pregnancy

Many pregnant women and their partners find that using various relaxation techniques can help to reduce levels of stress and maintain a feeling of wellbeing during pregnancy.  These techniques can be undertaken for free, at any time and in any quiet space that you have to yourself, making them relatively easy strategies to employ if you are looking to feel more relaxed and less stressed during your pregnancy.

Some recommended techniques that women find effective during pregnancy include:

Guided muscle relaxation

This technique involves tensing and relaxing specific muscle groups around your body.  This can help release the muscle tension caused by stress or assist you with sleeping if you are dealing with pregnancy-related insomnia.

Breathing exercises

Becoming aware of your breathing and breathing in and out deeply and evenly can ensure you have the right balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your system.  This form of controlled breathing not only keeps your mind and body functioning well, but can also lower your blood pressure, promote feelings of calmness and help you to de-stress and relax.

Guided mental imagery

Closing your eyes and imagining that you are in a safe, calm and relaxing place can be an effective way to remove yourself from current stressors in your environment and, as a result, relieve feelings of stress.

There are many apps, websites and podcasts available to help you with these self-help strategies for relaxation. Keep in mind though, that some of the digital tools work better for some people than others. So don’t be surprised if it requires some trial and error before you find the one that works best for you, and you may indeed prefer to join a community group class.