Whether we acknowledge it or not, our bodies experience stress on the daily during pregnancy. While the role of stress hormones during pregnancy continues to be a mystery, what we do know is that building a mother’s positive support networks can decrease her stress and improve positive outcomes for her pregnancy and attachment with her baby. One way to address stress is through self-care. These practices are important both during pregnancy as well as after baby arrives. Expecting mothers and their partners can both benefit from these practices.
Five Strategies for Self-Care:
Finding a mindfulness moment involves focusing all your attention on one specific thing. If the world around you feels hectic and chaotic, focusing your mind on just one thing, even briefly, can lead to decreased stress, anxiety, depression, distress, and burnout. What might your mindfulness moment be?
- Putting on your shoes in the morning
- Watering a plant in your window
- Drinking morning tea or coffee
- A planned ten-minute meditation before rising from bed (Try a guided mindfulness app such as Leaves on a Stream, Calm or Headspace)
- Listen to the sounds outside your doorstep
- People watching
- Going for a walk
Joy & Laughter
Laughter is a natural release for tension and stress. Laughter helps us get rid of difficult feelings and improves mental well-being. What makes you laugh?
- Watching a comedy special
- Watching a baby belly laugh
- Dance party with kids or a friend?
Daily movement, even for a short duration, can lift your spirits. You can go for a solo walk outdoors if possible or have a friend or your partner join you. The practice of ‘Forest Bathing’ or immersing yourself in nature, allows you to experience nature through your senses. As you walk outside, notice your surroundings. How do they impact your senses? What do you smell, see hear, and feel? Enjoy these sensations as you move.
Yoga, Stretching, & Breathwork
- Stretching is the focus on the body and releasing tension to promote relaxation. It is less formal than yoga and can be done almost anywhere. Stretching is as simple as moving your body in a way that feels good. Try reaching both arms high and leaning from side to side. Or sit in a chair and twist the upper body side to side and hold for a few moments.
- Yoga is the practice of uniting mind and body through focused and disciplined series of breathing and movement. Practicing yoga has been found to lead to increased relaxation and calmness and reduce anxiety. Check out a free yoga class on YouTube (Yoga for Everyone).
- Breathwork is the practice of focusing your breath to increase calm and reduce stress. Tyr breathing in for a count of four, holding for a count of three, and releasing the breath for a count of eight. Repeat as needed!
Gratitude is the act of giving thanks for something in your life. This practice improves self-esteem, mental strength, physical health, and relationships. Gratitude helps us disconnect form toxic emotions. Keeping a gratitude journal is one way to do this. This can be done by writing down two or three things you are grateful for. This practice can be done 1-2 times per week.
No matter what, you are worth taking good care of!
“Give yourself the same care and attention that you give to others and watch yourself bloom.” -Author Unknown