Handling Stress in Pregnancy and Postpartum

Everyone knows that stress affects the body.

Stress can affect your sleep, digestion, headaches, motivation, and mental health conditions.  Stress lowers your immunity and makes challenging daily situations more intense.

Pregnancy and bringing your newborn home may offer some new challenges and many blessings.  The stress of strangers asking you personal questions and feeling out of control in your own rapidly changing body can be a very real challenge.  Bringing a new baby home to feed, diaper and care for is yet another challenge.  No matter how well prepared you are there is always something unexpected to deal with.

For these reasons and many others, it is critical for both parents to take care of themselves.  Take some downtime to listen to your body so that you can understand its needs. Then you can take steps to take better care of yourself so that you can take care of your little one and partner.

Reach out for professional help as needed. A professional therapist trained in perinatal mood disorders may be just what you need.  They can help you to work through the stress and find a better way to deal with your problems.  Oftentimes, therapy is sufficient, but medications are also available with treatment for more severe cases. Medications can ease anxiety and depression and help promote sleep.

Find some downtime to relax. Everyone needs an opportunity to unwind daily. Find a technique or two that work for you. Some of our clients choose to jam out to music, others journal, draw, take bubble baths, do deep breathing exercises, meditate, practice yoga, go for walks, read books, make a cup of tea, or spend time with a family pet.

Sleep is critical for your body to heal, make milk, and stay healthy, however, it can be challenging with restless legs, night sweats, newborn cries, and insufficient planning. Plan to get seven or more hours of sleep daily, even if in groups of three and four hours.  When home try to get off your feet when the baby sleeps.  Rest if you cannot nap but use this quiet time to refuel your body.

Fuel your body. It is impossible to grow your baby, heal your body, and nurse your baby without careful attention to your diet. Simple and non-processed foods and fluids are oftentimes overlooked for quick, easy fast food.  Plan and food shop strategically.  Buy food in its natural state and eat them with the least amount of cooking so that they hold more nutrients.  Take the time to make lunch and healthy snacks.  Eat all the colors of the rainbow so that you get all the necessary vitamins.  Your body and baby will thank you for it. Click here for recommendations.

Get moving and off the couch. Physical activity helps fetal alignment and makes birth less painful. It also reduces muscle stiffness and helps your mood due to an endorphin release. Take it easy right after birth, wear a belly binder to support your body, but know exercise is your friend.

Contact your friends and family. Reach out for help. They can be great listeners over the phone or in person.  They remind you that you are not alone and may be able to help you with a different point of view, a referral, or hands-on assistance.

Set limits. Figure out what you need to do and what you can realistically accomplish. There are only so many hours in the day.  Don’t be afraid to say no.

Make compromises. Be strategic in your choices and arguments. Let go of things you cannot change and work on those that you can and the ones that are important to you.

Think about full moves. When can you get the most done in your day with the least amount of effort? Simples changes can have wonderful compounding effects when you plan for them. Here are some examples for you.

    • Walking at lunchtime with a friend to get a salad is a full move allowing you to exercise, communicate, and fuel your body.
    • Walking during a conference call.
    • Plan out meals.
    • Squatting each time, the phone rings at work.