mental health pregnancy

3 Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a big life event that can feel exciting, overwhelming, even scary at times and everything in between. There’s so much to consider, logistically and emotionally, as your body changes, you prepare to give birth, and the dynamic of your family evolves.

Feeling anxious is understandable and totally normal, especially during the global pandemic and related economic crisis. However, managing emotions is essential to you and your baby’s well being. Prolonged stress can increase your risk for high blood pressure and premature birth, and possibly affect your baby’s development.

Tip #1 – Stay connected to people.

Join a parents’ group.

Connecting with other expectant or new parents can help you feel less alone in your pregnancy journey. Even though it’s harder to meet in person these days, you can still find community remotely. Try joining an online parents group, like this Facebook group for parents who are committed to supporting each other during the COVID-19 outbreak, or this group just for those who will or have given birth during the pandemic.

Keep up with friends and family.

Many of us are isolating alone, which is hard, but we can call the people we love across the world. It’s good to express how you’re feeling to people you trust and to be reminded of their love and support. Try to arrange virtual gatherings on a regular basis, such as a game night or book club, and video chat, call, or text people often. Got a friend who’s pregnant at the same time? You can find support by sharing your experiences and the things you’ve found most helpful.

Tip #2 – Take care of your body.

Dedicate time to exercise.

Being active during pregnancy has many benefits, including increased endorphins, improved sleep, and healthy weight maintenance. Try walking outside for a half hour (make sure you wear a mask) or finding a free prenatal yoga video online. Meditation also offers some of the same physical benefits and brings a sense of peace throughout your pregnancy. Last, don’t forget strength training you’re going to have to carry that baby around in 9 months! If you have questions about safe exercise, you can always talk to your doctor throughout your pregnancy.

Prioritize healthy eating.

It’s okay to give into cravings every now and then, but do your best to maintain a regular eating schedule with healthy food choices. Try frequent smaller portions to help with hunger and morning sickness. Focus on eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats like nuts and olive oil, and lean proteins, combined with a prenatal vitamin. Avoid foods with high risk for Listeria like sushi and lunch meat, and refrain from alcohol. Also, don’t forget to limit your caffeine intake to one cup of coffee per day. Good nutrition will not only make you feel better and reduce your risk of gestational diabetes, but may also positively impact your baby’s health.

Maintain a regular sleep schedule.

Sleep is essential in regulating your growth hormones, which affect the development of your baby. Using a body pillow can help you feel more comfortable and get used to sleeping on your side. If you’re having trouble sleeping because of stress, try meditating. You can start simple. Just lie down, close your eyes, and focus on breathing deeply. If a thought pops into your head, let it go and return your attention to your breath. Trust us when we say you’ll want to catch up on sleep now before the baby comes.

Tip #3 – Be kind to yourself.

Let go of expectations.

Every pregnancy is different, and the spectrum of what’s “normal” is broad. Your experience may be unique to others’, and it’s just as valid. Try to release any thoughts about what you “should” be doing and feeling to make space for what’s really going on. Judging yourself will only cause distress, so you might as well let that inner voice go.

Find time to do things you enjoy.

Even though your body’s changing, you’re still you, and it’s important to stay connected to what brings you joy. Carve out a little time every day even if it’s just fifteen minutes to do something for yourself. Practice a hobby, read, or watch your favorite TV show.

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