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If worrying about your pregnancy seems to be taking up all of your time, don’t worry, you’re not alone. All moms-to-be experience stress during pregnancy—it’s normal. But if your stress becomes constant and overwhelming, that’s when it’s time to get some help—not just for your own health, but for the health of your baby.

When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that prepare your body for the physical exertion of fight or flight. Eventually, these hormones dissipate and your body returns to its normal, balanced state. Sometimes though, like when you’re stressed about giving birth, your stress levels don’t go down. This can lead to a decline in your health and developmental problems for the fetus such as ADHD and even impaired cognitive development. That’s why it’s so important that you keep chronic stress—the kind that’s with you day and night—to a minimum. To help you stay happy, healthy, and stress-free during your pregnancy, we’ve assembled the eight best ways to relieve stress during pregnancy.

relaxing while pregnant

1. Concentrate On Your Breathing

Stress can have a major effect on your breathing. It can cause you to take shorter, shallower breaths which decrease the oxygen in your body. This shallow breathing, in turn, can cause your stress levels to rise as your body reacts to the lack of oxygen. Yes, it’s a vicious cycle, but you can take control by focusing on your breathing and meditating.

When you feel yourself getting stressed, sit or lie down, close your eyes, and take at least five deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth while paying attention to the rise and fall of your chest. As you breathe, try to relax and let your stress slip away.

2. Stretch To Feel Better Fast

stretching while pregnant

The hormones that are released when you get stressed can cause your muscles to tense up and tighten. Stretching is a great way to counteract this tightness and relieve stress during pregnancy.

If you feel yourself getting anxious or nervous, take a few minutes out of your busy schedule to stretch your neck, your back, your arms, and your legs. Stretch your neck by tilting your head so that your left ear moves toward your left shoulder. Pause when you feel a stretch and hold this position for twenty seconds. Be sure to breathe deeply to help your muscles relax. After twenty seconds, slowly move your head back to its normal position. Then tilt your head to the other side and hold for twenty seconds.

3. Get Plenty Of Rest

When you don’t get enough sleep, your body and mind quickly become exhausted. This can lead to an increase in negative thoughts and emotions which, in turn, can cause stress.

If you’re having problems sleeping at night, we suggest taking a nap during the day. Even a quick, 20-minute cat-nap can help your body and mind relax.

4. De-stress With A Massage

Like stretching, a massage is a great way to relax your muscles and relieve stress during pregnancy. You can even massage yourself if you’re starting to feel stress setting in.

We recommend using an oil like Mustela’s Stretch Marks Oil to reduce friction as you massage. Just spray a few squirts in the palm of your hand and gently massage your tense muscles with soft, kneading movements. Focus on your breathing at the same time and you’ll feel your stress melt away.

5. Tense & Relax

Want to relieve stress during pregnancy and prepare yourself for labor? This tense and relax exercise is just what the doctor ordered.

Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Take a few deep breaths to get started and continue breathing deeply as you progress. Tense the muscles in your feet for three seconds, then relax. Next, tense the muscles at the back of your lower leg (your calves), hold for a count of three, then relax. Slowly move up your body tensing and relaxing each muscle group in turn.

6. Employ Positive Self-Talk

how to relax while pregnant

Did you know you can actually talk yourself into being less stressed? All it takes is a simple mantra. Repeat this mantra over and over again in your head. Doing so will help your mind focus and push all negative thoughts out of your head.

We recommend something like, “I am happy, healthy, relaxed, and 100% ready to care for my newborn.” Whatever mantra makes you feel good about yourself and less stressed is just fine, create your own to fit your situation. Then, when your nerves start to get the best of you, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and recite your mantra to yourself.

7. Sip On Peppermint Tea

drinking tea while expecting

Peppermint leaves contain menthol which acts as a muscle relaxant and sedative. Peppermint also helps remove gas from your stomach and resolve stomach issues like nausea and vomiting. Sipping on peppermint tea is a healthy, all-natural way to relieve stress during pregnancy. Keep some peppermint tea bags in your purse or briefcase so you can fight stress and tummy trouble wherever you are. Peppermint tea is naturally caffeine-free so you can sip on it all day at work or while lounging at home.

8. Talk To Someone Else About What’s Bothering You

Sometimes, the things that stress you the most are all in your head. When you think about giving birth, you worry about what might happen, and all of a sudden, you’re stressed. Talking to someone else about what’s bothering you is a great way to get these worries off your chest and relieve stress in the process. Choose someone with whom you feel comfortable talking about these sensitive issues—a partner, a friend, even a therapist—and get it all out. You’ll be surprised by how much better you’ll feel just by putting your fears and concerns on the table.