A report I read this morning reinforced my biggest fear as to why my son may have been born prematurely. In a column titled, "Premature babies: The pregnant elephant in the room is stress," the writer makes a strong case linking the two.
In it, writer Anna White argues that the stress of working and women who refuse to slow down while they're pregnant could contribute to premature births. "As career women, in our bid to have it all, all at once, are we endangering our unborn children by increasing the risk of pre-term birth?"
I don't doubt that could be part of the problem.
I've long suspected it contributed to the preeclampsia I had with my first pregnancy that caused my son to be delivered via emergency C-section at 27 weeks, weighing just 1 pound, 15 ounces. I didn't have any other risk factors, but I can still almost physically feel the stress I felt during that pregnancy. Not just from a stressful job -- which I definitely had at the time -- but from all of it. From fear after two miscarriages, from so many unknowns, and so many things I (a huge control freak) had no control over.
During my second pregnancy I did everything in my power to relax more and not worry as much. But stressing about not stressing is its own sort of stress, so it wasn't easy. Still I think I managed much better, and because of that or not, my second pregnancy went to term.
So if you're pregnant and already feeling stressed, don't let this report (or any of the other ones out there) worry you too much. Instead do what you can to relax. Here are seven ways I found that work.
1. Exercise -- I know it's often the last thing you feel like doing when you're pregnant, but even just a brisk walk can really clear your head.
2. Yoga -- Not only is it great exercise, but the soothing mental exercises can be calming. Even if you've never tried it before, pregnancy can be a great time to start (ask your doctor first though just to be safe!).
3. Sunshine -- Just sitting on a bench somewhere soaking up the sunshine can be therapeutic in more ways than one. Also, increased vitamin D is thought to be beneficial in many ways, including perhaps the prevention of preeclampsia.
4. Prenatal Massage -- If you can afford it, it's one of the best things you can do. It eases aches and pains and gives you time to just be.
5. Rest -- If ever there was a good excuse for a nap, growing a baby inside your body is it.
6. Let Go -- Not to say you should slack at work, but if you're a Type-A go-getter, try to step back and realize it's okay to not always exceed expectations by one million percent. Sometimes it's okay just to meet them. And to ask for help.
7. Look Around -- This sounds a little silly, but one thing that would always help me is that when I thought of all of the horrible things that could go wrong, I'd look around and see all the healthy living people around me. I'd remind myself that most of the time, things do go just fine.
How do you deal with stress in pregnancy?
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