While pregnancy can be one of the most exciting and amazing times of your life, it can also be one of the most stressful. In addition to all of the unknown variables you’re facing about parenthood and meeting your baby, you’re also dealing with major changes to your body and your lifestyle – plus all those other stressors you had when you weren’t pregnant, like your job, finances, chores, and more. Here are five ways to stay relaxed and healthy from the positive test to labor and delivery.
Prenatal yoga may be one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby: It helps you keep your muscles strengthened and toned, can assist your body in preparing for labor, and gives you a chance to calm your mind with breathing and relaxation techniques. Look for a class at your local gym or yoga studio, or see if you can join a standard yoga class with a teacher who can offer modifications when necessary. You can also look for DVDs or online videos for an at-home practice -- just make sure your doctor gives the okay.
As your pregnancy progresses, you may find your endurance, energy, and enthusiasm for your usual exercise routine waning – but making time each day for walking, stretching, light weightlifting, or low-impact activities like swimming offers benefits that include lowering your risk of gestational diabetes, keeping excess weight gain at bay, and even increasing the chance of a healthier birth weight for your baby. As with yoga, though, check with your doctor to make sure your routine of choice is safe for you and the baby.
Sleep sounds like a given, right? Not so much. While your friends and family are reminding you to “stock up on sleep” before the midnight feedings start (as if that’s even possible), a full night’s shut-eye becomes more and more elusive thanks to your changing body shape, late-night leg cramps, endless trips to the bathroom, and your husband’s snoring (which never used to keep you up!). Improve your pregnancy sleep by developing a consistent, calming pre-bedtime routine, and make sure you take the opportunity to grab a nap whenever possible to feel more rested throughout the day.
A prenatal massage gives you the chance to relax, close your eyes, and spend an hour away from your worries – but the physical and health benefits are worth considering, too. The American Pregnancy Association says that prenatal massage can “reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve labor outcomes and newborn health.” Not bad for an hour of pampering.
More Great Links
- “Massage and Pregnancy – Prenatal Massage.” American Pregnancy Association. (August 20, 2013) http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/prenatalmassage.html
- “Study: Exercise in Pregnancy Benefits Babies.” Time. (August 20, 2013) http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1978193,00.html
- “33 Reasons to Exercise Now.” FitPregnancy. (August 20, 2013) http://www.fitpregnancy.com/workouts/prenatal-workouts/33-reasons-exercise-now