Pregnancy can be a stressful time in a woman’s life, especially since various activities that might relieve stress – like a glass of wine, or a certain food – are out of the question, but there are other ways to cope with it, experts say.
Dr. Mary Kimmel, the medical director of the Perinatal Psychiatry Inpatient Unit at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, said that a lot of factors can lead to stress during pregnancy.
According to Dr. Kimmel, some of the factors can be external, such as a conversation that could make the pregnant woman anxious and worried about how her pregnancy is progressing.
Moreover, biological changes that take place within a pregnant woman’s body can also become a cause of stress. All throughout pregnancy the hormone levels change, Dr. Kimmel noted.
For instance, the levels of cortisol – a steroid hormone in the glucocorticoid that is released in response to low blood-glucose concentration and stress (activates anti-stress pathways) – increase throughout pregnancy. There are other hormones, such as the ones that are related to appetite, can also change during pregnancy, Kimmel explained.
Other thing that might increase the stress levels are biological factors, like back pain (when the baby grows), and fatigue, according to Dr. Kimmel.
There are various different things that women can do to help them cope with stress during gestation. The most important thing that future moms can do is to understand and recognise the factors that lead to higher levels of stress, Kimmel said. They have to be aware of the changes that take place both within their own bodies, and in the environment around them.
Dr. Kimmel also said that pregnant women should be able to treat themselves once in a while and not feel any type of guilt afterward. For example, when they experience food craving, pregnant women should recognise that they are in fact craving a specific food without the need to go on a guilt trip, she recommended. As long as they have an overall good diet, it is ok to indulge a craving and not beat themselves up about it later, Kimmel noted.
Another important thing is to get proper support from their doctor, as well as family and friends. According to Dr. Kimmel, there is still a stigma around perinatal depression, a a common disorder that is treatable. Dr Vivette Glover, Director of the Fetal and Neonatal Stress and Research Centre, said that one in every ten women will be depressed at any one time during pregnancy, and about one in every thirty women will experience depression in the postnatal period.
Because some activities that could relieve stress are no longer an option – like having a glass of wine – pregnant women should seek other ways to relax, such as reading a book, or deep berating exercises, Dr. Kimmel explained. They should also prioritize the activities that they find relaxing and that make them feel good. Stress levels can also be kept under control by staying active, she said.
Image Source: healthline