Nine keys for a stress-free pregnancy and childbirth

A growing body of research shows that, in some women, anxiety and stress lead to pre-term birth, smaller babies and potential problems later for the child, from respiratory illness and developmental delays.

by Dr. Linda Miles — 

Pregnancy and childbirth can be very stressful times. The following information can help make this a less stressful, more joyous milestone in your life.

1. Do not let anxiety and stress take a toll — A growing body of research shows that, in some women, anxiety and stress lead to pre-term birth, smaller babies and potential problems later for the child, from respiratory illness and developmental delays.

2. Take simple steps — Reduce the stress risk by using yoga and meditation techniques. The March of Dimes suggests meditation and exercise designed for pregnant women as effective stress-management techniques. There are also CDs available that can help enormously and can even be used during delivery and after the baby is born.

3. Reduce risks during pregnancy — Women in the past often talked about the need to take it easy during pregnancy. During the 1980s and 1990s, however, a tendency to downplay this need occurred, as women evolved in the workplace. However, Dr. Calvin Hobel, professor of obstetrics at the University of California, Los Angeles, has found that chronic stress during pregnancy can raise the likelihood of complications, such as pre-term birth, smaller babies, respiratory illness or developmental delays. Women who work very hard in high-stress jobs may be predisposed toward these problems.

4. Develop an attitude of gratitude — Some women are able to operate at high levels of stress without ill effects on their pregnancy. These are women who generally have positive attitudes and low anxiety levels about life challenges. Mother Theresa once said that our greatest protection is a joyful heart.

5. Do not just survive, visualize — Visualization techniques include having the pregnant mom picture herself as calm and relaxed. One mom who used these techniques reported that when she performed her visualizations, her baby in-utero would become very still. She laughed at how the baby went from crawling around in her belly to becoming absolutely still. Using these techniques as the child develops can help mom and baby practice relaxation strategies that are known to reduce anxiety and stress.

6. Become a mommy whisperer — Visualization techniques can be used extensively during pregnancy, as well as  after the baby is born. Children are so responsive to relaxation techniques they will become still and quiet.

7. Steer your career — Moms need to remember they have 30 years left in a career, so they might want to consider taking some down time during pregnancy, particularly if they are prone to worry and tension.

8. Learn to self-soothe — Many women have never learned to speak to themselves in kind, loving tones. They may not have received enough mothering themselves. Learning to have a compassionate voice, even when silent, will soothe mom and baby.

9. Make connections — Social support and nurturing by a partner are linked to higher birth weight and healthier infants. Women are encouraged to use soft eyes with their partner and continue to make positive connections during pregnancy. It is important for the mother and baby, and it generates healing chemicals. Bonding behaviors secrete oxytocin, a chemical that leads to positive bonding in the family.

 

Dr. Linda Miles has a doctorate in counseling psychology and has worked in the mental health field for more than 30 years. She is co-author of The New Marriage: Transcending the Happily-Ever-After Myth.www.thenewmarriage.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 5, October/November 2006.

, , , , , , , , , , , ,
Web Analytics