Whether you are preparing for your first child or fifth, it's completely expected to feel stress or anxiety during pregnancy. You're probably wondering how you will manage your daily life in the coming months. Anxiety during pregnancy is exacerbated when you are extra tired, nauseous from morning sickness, or dealing with the myriad of other life stressors that can pile on. Staying organized and crossing items off your to-do list is a struggle for many in the best of times! Here are some “baby steps” towards feeling better and lessening anxiety during pregnancy.
The first steps in managing anxiety during pregnancy are to make sure you are taking care of your health. Focus your efforts on taking a high-quality prenatal vitamin, drinking plenty of water, and eating a healthy diet. Talk to your doctor about your morning sickness symptoms and what you still need to be getting nutrition-wise.
Get at LEAST 8-10 hours of sleep a night. There is no shame in going to bed early. You may feel especially tired during the first and third trimester. Hormonal changes, nausea and physical discomfort may contribute to this excessive sleepiness. Turn off the phone and technology around 10pm (or earlier) and try to get in good sleep hygiene habits.
Make an effort to get some form of light exercise every day, even if its just taking a walk around the block or going for a swim. Exercise is so critical to wellbeing; do whatever you can to get a little in.
You are making a life! Go easy on yourself. Don’t pay mind to what pregnant women on Facebook or Pinterest are doing. You have all the time in the world to catch up on laundry, dirty dishes, cleaning the house, taking your other children to the park, etc. These are obviously all great to do as well, but your number one priority, so that you can accomplish anything else, is to take care of yourself first.
Take some music or a podcast along on your walks. Get some “me” time every day- use it to take a bath, watch more tv, or get a prenatal massage.
Light a candle or buy a new, wonderful smelling shampoo or body wash to make your daily routines feel more luxurious. These are all ways to incorporate me-time into your self-care.
If you want to stop feeling overwhelmed during this pregnancy, its time to change your “to-do” list. Make it smaller. If you could only do one to-do item today, which would it be? Don’t be afraid to hire out services if you can squeeze them into your budget. Getting the laundry sent out or a housekeeper twice a month can make a huge difference in catching up and decreasing your anxiety during pregnancy.
Check out our Help Section to find service providers in your area. If you can’t afford help right now, set a timer for 15-20 minutes of de-cluttering and cleaning a day. You can always do a little more once you get going, but you know if you have accomplished this baseline, you are doing fine for now. Doing the best you can and getting by is enough right now. Add more daily minutes once you are feeling better.
Routines are like the antidote to feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Begin starting some new habits. Pick out everyone’s clothes the night before. Plan all the family meals (breakfast, snacks, dinner) at least the night before if not at the beginning of the week.
There are great programs out there that encourage you to clean little by little in a positive way, such as FlyLady.net, Motivated Moms or [email protected] Your Habitat. Or get inspired by reading Marie Kondo’s Magic of Tidying Up.
Most importantly, start routines that work on your mental well being. Try 5-10 minutes of meditation using an app like Headspace or spiritual meditation. Now might be a good time to get into prenatal yoga.
Anxiety during pregnancy can come from feeling overwhelmed about both large and small issues. Simplify meals for a while. Dinner doesn’t have to be anything more complicated than a protein and a veggie, maybe a starch. Who cares if your family is having frozen meatballs or frozen chicken nuggets once a week? Ask your partner to cook one night a week (or more). Make one crock-pot meal a week and freeze any leftovers. Consider a grocery or meal delivery service.
Do one “activity” with your kids each day (art time, play doh time, gardening time, etc.) and don’t let yourself care if the rest of the time is free play. Or all of it is free play.
Enlist help from your family and friends. Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk about your stress, they remember what it was like to feel tired and overwhelmed during pregnancy.
No matter which strategies you come up with or how removed they are from what you are usually able to accomplish, incorporating some or all of these tips will help alleviate some overwhelmed feelings and anxiety during pregnancy. Remember, some overwhelm and anxiety during pregnancy is normal, but you should check with your doctor or mental health practitioner to make sure nothing more serious is going on.