Stress during Pregnancy
Feeling stress is common during any woman’s life. Stress is what you feel in situations that are dangerous, difficult or menacing. Chronic stress is stress caused by ongoing situations or problems, such as unemployment, deployment of your partner, financial problems. Anxiety is magnified worry and is greater than justified.
Many experts believe stress in you can
affect the health of your baby, including causing gastric disorders,
such as colic, and later in life, reading difficulties and/or
Pregnancy is stressful! Studies show
pregnancy ranks #12 on a list of life’s most stressful events. Normal
stress probably won’t hurt you or baby, but major stress may increase
your risk of premature birth. Learning to manage stress can go a long
way in making your life more manageable—when you’re pregnant and when
During pregnancy, stress can be caused by
many things. Hormone changes can cause you to react in ways that aren’t
normal for you, which can be stressful. Your body is changing, which
stresses many women. You may have worked very
hard to get and/or to maintain your figure—now that you’re pregnant,
there’s not much you can do about it.
Eating well and exercising can help you
feel better and may relieve some stress. You may be thinking about
being a good parent—the prospect of parenthood can be stressful for
anyone. You may not be feeling very well, which adds to the problem.
You may feel stress from working or other obligations.
Relax, and take it easy! There are many
things you can do to help relieve stress. Try them, and encourage your
partner to try them if he’s also feeling stressed out.
• Get enough sleep each night. Lack of sleep can make you feel stressed.
• Rest and relax during the day. Read or listen to music during a quiet period. Slow down in your daily activities.
• When you feel stressed, stop and
take a few slow, deep breaths. This can help turn off the stressed part
of your nervous system.
• Exercise can help you work off
stress. Take a walk or visit the gym. Put on an exercise video for
pregnant women. Do something active and physical (but not too physical)
to relieve stress. Ask your partner to join you.
• It may sound corny, but think
“happy thoughts.” When you turn your thoughts to good things, it
actually sends a chemical message to your brain that flows through your
entire body and helps you relax.
• Eat nutritiously. Having enough calories available all through the day helps you avoid “lows.”
• Be positive. Sometimes deciding
to be more positive can affect you. Smiling instead of frowning can
help ease stress—put on a happy face.
• Do something you enjoy, and do it for you.
• If smells are important to you,
make sure you include them in your life. Burn scented candles, or buy
fragrant flowers to help you relax.
• Don’t be a loner. Share your concerns with your partner, or find a group of pregnant women you can talk with.
Falling and Injuries from Falls
A fall is the most frequent cause of
minor injury during pregnancy. Fortunately, a fall is usually without
serious injury to the baby or mother-to-be. The uterus is well
protected in the abdomen inside the pelvis. The baby is protected by
the cushion of amniotic fluid surrounding it. Your uterus and abdominal
wall also offer some protection.
If you fall, contact your healthcare
provider; he or she may want to examine you. You may feel reassured if
you’re monitored and baby’s heartbeat is checked. Baby’s movement after
a fall can be reassuring.
Minor injuries to the abdomen are treated
as though you were not pregnant. However, avoid X-rays if possible.
Ultrasound evaluation may be the test of choice after a fall. This is
judged on an individual basis, depending on the severity of your
symptoms and your injury.
Your balance and mobility change as you
grow larger during pregnancy. Be careful during the winter when parking
lots and sidewalks may be wet or icy. Many pregnant women fall on
stairs; always use the handrail. Walk in well-lit areas, and try to
stay on sidewalks.
Who knew forgetfulness could be tied to
pregnancy? If you find your partner just can’t remember things you ask
her to do or to remember something important to you, make lists for
her. Approach it with humor—you may find you get a better response.
Slow down a little as you get larger; you
won’t be able to get around as quickly as you normally do. With the
change in your balance, plus any dizziness you experience, it’s
important to be watchful to avoid falling.
Some signs can alert you to a problem
after a fall, including bleeding, a gush of fluid from the vagina,
indicating rupture of membranes, and/or severe abdominal pain.
Placental abruption, premature separation of the placenta from the
uterus, is one of the most serious problems caused by a fall.
Sometimes a fall or accident causes a
broken bone, which may require X-rays and surgery. Treatment cannot be
delayed until after pregnancy; the problem must
be dealt with immediately. If you find yourself in such a situation,
insist your pregnancy healthcare provider be contacted before any test
is done or treatment is started.
If X-rays are required, your pelvis and
abdomen must be shielded. If they can’t be shielded, the need for the
X-ray must be weighed against the risk it poses to baby.
Anesthesia or pain medication may be
necessary with a simple break that requires setting or pinning. It is
best for you and the baby to avoid general anesthesia if possible. You
may need pain medicine, but keep its use to a minimum.
If general anesthesia is required to
repair a break, the baby should be monitored closely. Your surgeon and
pregnancy healthcare provider will work together to provide the best
care for you and your baby.
3. Your Nutrition
Pregnancy increases your need for
vitamins and minerals. It’s best if you can meet most of these needs
through the foods you eat. However, being realistic, we know that can
be hard to do. That’s one reason your healthcare provider prescribes a
prenatal vitamin for you—to help you meet your nutritional needs.
Some women do need extra help during
pregnancy—supplements are often prescribed for them. These pregnant
women include teenagers (whose bodies are still growing), severely
underweight women, women who ate a poor diet before conception and
women who have previously given birth to multiples. Women who smoke or
drink may need supplements, as do some who have a chronic medical
condition, those who take certain medications and those who have
problems digesting cow’s milk, wheat and other essential foods. In some
cases, vegetarians may need supplements.
If you have a burst of energy during this trimester, use it to get out of the house.
A Balanced Meal Plan
Below is a list of some foods to choose
from each group and an appropriate serving size for each. There are
many different foods to choose from.
• Breads, cereals, rice, pasta
and grains, 6 to 11 servings—1 slice of bread, ½ bun, ½ English muffin,
½ small bagel, ½ cup cooked pasta, rice or hot cereal, 4 crackers, ¾
cup cold cereal
• Fruit, 2 to 4 servings—¼ cup dried fruit, ½ cup fresh, canned or cooked fruit, ¾ cup juice
• Vegetables, 3 to 5 servings—½ cup cooked vegetables, 1 cup leafy salad vegetables, ¾ cup juice
• Protein sources, 2 to 3
servings—2 to 3 ounces of cooked poultry, meat or fish, 1 cup cooked
beans, ¼ cup seeds or nuts, ½ cup tofu, 2 eggs
• Dairy products, 4 servings—1
cup milk (any type), 1 cup yogurt, 1½ ounces cheese, 1½ cups of cottage
cheese, 1½ cups frozen yogurt, ice milk or ice cream
• Fats, oils and sweets—limit intake of these food products; concentrate on nutritious, healthy foods
Your healthcare provider can
discuss the situation with you. If you need more than a prenatal
vitamin, he or she will advise you. Caution: Never take any supplements without your healthcare provider’s OK!