Study after study has shown that a mother’s stress during pregnancy negatively effects their baby.
As a mother and a business owner and -heck- being alive in western culture, this is rather overwhelming. How in the world am I supposed to avoid stress while I’m pregnant?
We can’t totally avoid stress. There are good kinds of stress -like the excitement of a birthday party- and there are negative kinds, like running late and driving in heavy rains and bad traffic. The trick is to be aware of the stressors in your life, gauge your level and try your best to deplete the negative stressors.
I absolutely love guided meditation, particularly when it’s pregnancy related and helps me connect with my baby and envision a beautiful birthing process. Itunes and even Amazon Prime Music have oodles of gems you can find that will give you 10 minutes to an hour of peaceful zen time to lower your stress level, find peace and gain strength.
Don’t laugh, I’m serious. Get your sleep, girl! Lack of sleep causes a tremendous amount of stress on your body. Your cells cannot regenerate properly when you are in a sleep deficit. It depletes you functioning level. And it IS possible to get ample sleep when you decide that it’s a priority. And it is.
Sleep studies have shown that when we allow our bodies to get as much rest as they need it’s 9-10 hours of continual sleep. That may seem ridiculous to you, but I recently did my own sleep study and found that 9-10 hours did wonders for my sense of well-being, my energy and state of mind. It’s healthy to get your sleep. And do you know why one of the first signs of pregnancy is feeling beat and tired? WE’RE MAKING A BABY. You’re working hard, girl, so get that rest -get it while you can.
Already have little people? “Nap when they nap” isn’t just a cute saying, it’s wisdom. Snagging even 20 minutes of sleep mid-day will refresh you and help keep those stress hormones down.
Lately I’ve given up my nightly Netflix routine and have opted for an early bedtime. Yeah, my husband thinks my 9:30pm tuck in is funny, but lack of sleep is not joke. You want to give your baby everything it needs to grow fully and healthy and, Dear, you need to take care of yourself. There will be plenty of time for movie watching, facebook scrolling, etc. later in life -right now, your priority is getting all the glorious rest you and your baby need.
Get Off Your Phone
I’m not saying forever, but try limiting your use of social media to certain times of the day -and be strict about it. I am SO very guilty of letting social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat) rule my moment-to-moment. It’s an ugly confession, but it’s true. Meant to keep us “connected” with each other, social media has turned into “look how awesome my life is” breeding comparison, which leads to feelings of inadequacy and unhappiness. A recent study compared people who limit their social media usage to a small window of time a day versus those who impulsively checked all day long. Those with limited use reported much higher levels of happiness. Those who stay “connected” all day reported higher stress and lower happiness. For most the most part, it’s a time suck and a performance “stage” that provides more stress than relaxation, so limit your time. Don’t let something as trivial as social media steal your joy, rob you of NOW, and cause you and your baby undue stress.
Stay Away From Processed Foods and Sugar
We grossly underestimate the powerful effect of the foods we eat, particularly highly processed foods and sugar. These throw our hormones and inner chemistry entirely out of whack with a laundry list of side effects. For mental and physical wellbeing, remove these items from your diet and you will see remarkable changes in your stress level, sense of peace and sanity.
Confession: Yesterday I broke protocol and created a “restaurant-style” pancake breakfast for the family. Maple syrup, instant whole-wheat pancake mix, whipped topping, sprinkles. Yeah, not so plant-based. Can I just say… I was a wreck the rest of the day. Not just emotionally, but physically and mentally -a wreck. Headache, lethargy, depression, lack of motivation, moodiness -things I do not experience when I stay whole-foods plant-based and low-sodium, processed food+sugar-free. Food affects your entire being. Eat like your life depended on it. Because it does.
This immediately puts a smile on my face. No matter what’s going on in my day, when I stop, take a deep breath and begin recounting things I am grateful for my mood is transformed. My stress level plummets. My sense of wellbeing grows. There are so many wonderful gratitude practices out there -gratitude journals, gratitude lists, doodling gratitude art, writing thank you/gratitude notes to others. When we live in gratefulness we knock stress out at the knees.
Be Kind To Yourself
The very fact that you are trying to lower your stress level to foster the best baby-growing environment is high-five worthy. You are trying, and that’s the first step. Be kind to yourself on this journey. Gently remind yourself when you feel your stress level rising that you can let go of what’s unnecessary. Breath it out. Breath in peace and calm and wholeness. Just think of that precious little person growing inside you and keep choosing to give them -and yourself- the very best.
You are doing a great job. And you should be so proud of yourself. Way to go, Mama!