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6 Ways to Reduce Stress During Pregnancy

How to chill out while waiting for baby.

6 Ways to Reduce Stress During Pregnancy

You’re pregnant and can’t seem to relax and disconnect from your fast-paced life. Even long walks or quiet strolls through museums or escapes to the movie theaters can’t seem to help you “shake it off.” Whether you’re 6 or 36 weeks along, it’s always a good time to reevaluate your day-to-day lifestyle so you can figure out what’s bringing you down.

If you live in a metropolitan area or are working especially, it’s easy to find yourself eating on the run, holding off going to the bathroom way longer than your bladder can take, or working late and realizing that you haven’t had a snack for hours. And let’s not even start to talk about the commute to and from work. None of this is good prognosis for pregnancy outcomes, but the good news is, you can turn it all around.

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Here are 6 new routines that you can incorporate into your day to help you chill out during your pregnancy.

1. Pause for a moment. In my 27 years in and out of the birthing room, I have found that a calm woman is a more confident mother. Become aware of what you are doing by taking a break and slowing down throughout your day. Literally stop what you are doing, be still, take in a deep cleansing breath and slowly exhale any tension you may feel from the top of your head to your toes. This will calm you down. Then ask yourself, “Am I rushing? Am I stressing? Am I pissed off at someone?” Try to figure out where your thoughts are racing to. With practice, you will become more skillful and inclined to opt out of stressful situations. This continued confidence and ability to be more mindful of yourself and your body will help you shift your energy and habits and will allow you to be more tuned in to your baby.

2. Take a siesta. Take a 30-minute or power nap daily. Lay on your left side in a runner’s position with a few pillows between your knees to maximize blood flow to your baby. Getting a chance to rest can help boost your mood, perspective, and energy. If you’re at work and don’t happen to have a bed or couch at your disposal, sit upright in a chair and lift your feet up to keep your circulation moving.

3. Eat grains, drink water, avoid sugar. If you are feeling anxious, look on your plate to see if you are eating enough whole grains. They’re rich in B vitamins and great for calming down your nervous system. Get in one to two servings a day. Be sure you are not deficient in Vitamin B by getting blood work done (if you haven’t already). This is especially important if you are a vegetarian. If you are dehydrated, it’s difficult for your organs to work optimally, and headaches can occur to further compound anxiety. Keep headaches at bay by carrying a water bottle with you everywhere you go. Avoid white flour and sugar-coated foods to reduce spiking sugar levels, which are likely to hype your nerves only to leave you with little energy shortly after.

4. Modify work. Gradually modify your work schedule, especially after 32 weeks of gestation. Try to get to work an hour or two later to get a few extra hours of sleep and to avoid rush hour traffic. Leave your job an hour or two earlier, and consider working from home a few days a week to avoid the stress of commuting. Women are less likely to develop complications of late pregnancy including preterm-labor contractions or low amniotic fluid levels when they make adjustments to reduce the time they spend on their feet or sitting at a desk. Getting work done and preparing to get your house ready before baby arrives can be stressful. So at the onset of your third trimester or when you feel it’s time to slow down, your healthcare provider can provide your employer with a letter that goes over modifications of activities, including pee and snack breaks every two hours.

5. Attend wellness classes. A sedentary lifestyle (unless medically indicated) reduces circulation and movement, which can also create unnecessary tension, stiff muscles, lower back pain, and nervous energy. Letting an experienced chiropractor who works with pregnant women make appropriate adjustments can help calm down your nervous system while aligning you with your growing baby. An osteopathic adjustment and a prenatal massage are also helpful. Be careful to work with a registered prenatal massage therapist because there are various trigger points for starting labor that you want to avoid. If family and friends ask you what you want for the baby shower or the holidays, you can ask them to chip in for prenatal wellness classes like yoga, pilates, bodywork, dance, meditation, swimming, and relaxation. After all, how many onesies do you really need? A childbirth class will also give you time to chill out, have quality time with your partner to learn about labor and birth, and give you an opportunity to make some new friends.

6. Have a Q&A with yourself. Are you carrying heavy bags? If so, consider a suitcase on wheels. Are you wearing flat, comfortable shoes? Good! You’ll be less likely to fall than in heels. Do you dress in layers? It’s probably a good idea since pregnancy can bring on hot flashes. While you’re packing a couple of extra layering essentials, add an extra shirt and a bra in your pocketbook, in case your breasts leak colostrum. And since getting moist down there is your new norm, carry a few extra pairs of cotton crotch underwear in your bag. Changing into a dry pair of panties is healthier than using sanitary pads, which can move bacteria around. Are you surrounding yourself with pictures and mementos that bring about happy and fulfilling memories? No? Make sure you do. They’ll bring a smile to your face, and smiling is good for morale. And last but not least - are you talking to your baby? Doing so will help you slow down and forget the stressful things happening around you.

If you’re able to find quality alone time but are still feeling depressed or anxious, talk to your midwife or physician and get a referral for professional counseling. Unresolved fears of labor, birth or mothering can keep a pregnant woman on edge, unable to chill out without her realizing it.

Photography by Jonica Moore for Well Rounded.

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    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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