A positive urine pregnancy test is associated with a myriad of emotions! Along with the excitement of beginning a new chapter in their lives, women often experience apprehensions and anxiety about pregnancy and motherhood. Apprehensions about the changes in one’s body, constant worries about the baby and the labour process, and changes in the lifestyle post-delivery can lead to additional stress on a pregnant woman who already deals with hormonal changes in her body and common ailments like vomiting and indigestion.Also Read - EXCLUSIVE: Suhail Nayyar On How He Transformed His Body For Sharmaji Namkeen, Reveals His Diet And Fitness Secrets - Watch
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Does additional stress affect pregnancy?
Stress can lead to worsening of common ailments like vomiting, lack of sleep and altered eating habits during pregnancy. While most pregnancies are not affected by stress, excessive stress can lead to early deliveries and low birth weight babies. Also Read - Quinoa to Curd: 5 Things Vegetarians Must Add In Their Diet
Women who are stressed during pregnancy have a higher risk of anxiety and depression post-delivery. Also Read - Early Signs and Symptoms of Aphasia You Should Watch For
Tips to reduce stress in pregnancy:
- Deep breathing exercises/ Meditation
Taking time out for deep breathing or meditation each day will help relax your body and mind.
Increasing your fibre intake and drinking plenty of water will help you feel less bloated and constipated.
Adequate rest aiming at 8-9 hours of sleep at night is important to reduce your stress during pregnancy. Drinking a warm glass of milk, avoiding screen time before sleep and staying away from caffeinated beverages will help reduce the lack of sleep that most pregnant women experience, especially in the later trimester.
It’s important to talk about your feelings! Sharing your fears with friends, family or fellow pregnant moms often makes you realise that you’re not alone in this journey. Talk to your doctor!
Exercise releases endorphins, a hormone that elevates your mood and reduces your anxiety! Most women are apprehensive to exercise during pregnancy or are unaware of the exercises that are allowed during pregnancy. Exercise keeps you fit, improves your chances of having normal labour and keeps your blood sugars in control during pregnancy.
Pregnancy is a good time to start exercising if one has never done so before, and for those who regularly exercise, there is definitely no reason to stop when pregnant!
Tips to exercise in pregnancy:
- If you are a beginner, start with a 15-minute walk thrice a week and increase it gradually to about 30 minutes daily.
- Avoid strenuous exercise: You should be able to have a conversation while exercising during pregnancy. If you’re unable to do so or feel breathless, it’s a cue to reduce the intensity of your exercise.
- Stay well hydrated
- Avoid exercises that have a risk of falls like cycling, gymnastics, horse riding, etc
- Avoid lying flat on the tummy, especially after 4 months.
What exercises are best suited for a pregnant lady?
- Walking: Probably the simplest effective way of keeping your body active, walking for 30mins daily or a 10-15 min walk after each meal is recommended in pregnancy
- Swimming: Water supports the increased weight of pregnancy and is a great way to relax and stay active at the same time.
- Exercises to strengthen your back and pelvic floor muscles:
Several exercises to strengthen the muscles of the stomach and back and Kegels exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles are taught by the trainer/ physiotherapist trained to deal with pregnant women.
Consult your obstetrician before you start exercising!
Although exercise is recommended for a healthy pregnancy, there are certain conditions like recurrent miscarriages with a short cervix, bleeding during pregnancy due to a low lying placenta, pre-eclampsia etc where we recommend against exercise.
It’s important to ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to exercise before you begin.
A fit mind and body are essential for a healthy pregnancy and the well-being of a pregnant woman; hence efforts must be made at all times to stay active and relaxed during pregnancy.
(Authored by Dr Geeth Monnappa, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Fortis Hospital, Richmond Road, Bangalore)