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Managing Stress for a Healthy Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time for joy, preparation, and rest. But, as wonderful as it is, it can cause stress related to medical bills, relationships, hormones, insurance and routine testing. In addition, just keeping up with everyday life is often overwhelming.

It takes a lot of a women’s energy to grow a tiny human, and stresses zap precious energy reserves that are needed for the baby’s healthy growth and development. It is critical for a mother to make time for rest and stress management during pregnancy.

Science has long revealed the effects of stress on the body. The most well known effect is the release of adrenaline and the “fight or flight” response that triggers a plethora of debilitating reactions in the body. However, stress is a normal part of life—and few can escape it.

A consistent surge or high level of stress hormones can alter the body’s innate stress management system and result in an inflammatory response. Recent studies have linked this to poor pregnancy health, lower birth weight, preterm labor, and developmental issues in babies. It has also been linked to blood sugar issues, high blood pressure and anxiety in mothers.

It is imperative that an expectant mother learns to manage stress as well as possible. Keeping the body away from the fight or flight mode can be tricky, especially if there is a lot of stress at home, but there are many natural ways that help.

Below are five simple steps to help healthier mom and baby to reduce stress during the nine months of gestation.

Meditation — Can help reduce a stress level of ten down to two or three in a matter of minutes. About 20 minutes of guided meditation, twice a day or more during times of intense stress can help enormously. There are lots of free meditation apps online, and the site HypnoBabies.com offers classes and home study materials for a fee.

Walking — This no-cost exercise reduces levels of the body's stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. In addition, the fresh air and connecting with nature offers a great way to find balance and peace.

Energy Work — An often-underutilized stress management method, it can go a long way to help offload bottled up stress, emotions, and/or trauma. By helping to balance the body, energy work can restore emotional wellness, promote deeper rest, and bring physical relief, especially if the stress is manifesting physically.

Sleep —A pregnant body needs a lot of energy for daily tasks and for a baby’s growth and development. Sleep nurtures both the body and the mind. When the baby arrives, sleep can be hard to come by, so getting as much as possible during pregnancy is a goal.

Massage — Prenatal massage is heavenly for a tired, achy body. It also can be a time to be pampered as the therapist increases circulation, stretches tired muscles and relieves back pain through gentle hand movements.

It is important to note that constant stress, as well an inability to stop the fight or flight mode, can have a lasting effect on both mom and baby. Ultimately, it is best to work through stress, emotions, and trauma prior to getting pregnant, but that is not always possible.

According to Thomas R. Verny, MD, “From the moment of conception, the stories of our lives become encoded in the cells of our bodies and the neural circuits of our brains.” In other words, maternal stress creates primitive memories in the baby’s cells. Research from psychologist, Alice M. Givens, reveals unborn children may literally absorb their mother’s experience and emotions. Thus, a mother has the ability to nurture the child from conception by taking good care of her emotional and mental wellness. The benefit is that it provides a lasting impact on the health and wellness of both mother and child, as well as a more enjoyable pregnancy focused on joy, love, and the blessing waiting to be born.

Christy Cotterman, mom of a vivacious little girl, is a holistic life and emotional healing coach and owner of Wholly Healing LLC located in Maineville. She consults with clients nationwide, offering guidance and compassion through personal coaching, workshops and retreats. A benefactor of emotional healing from trauma, anxiety, and depression herself, Cotterman leads clients on a journey to emotional healing through energy work, positive thinking and stress management. For more information, call 513-827-2757 or visit WhollyHealingExperience.com.

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