Getting ready to have a baby is a very exciting time. But making plans for this huge change in your life (as well as coping with physical pregnancy symptoms) can be overwhelming too.
Up to 1 in 5 women develop mental health problems during pregnancy or in the first year after childbirth. Low mood, anxiety and depression are common.
It’s important to take care of your mental health as well as your physical health. Here are five ways to help you relax in pregnancy.
Do you ever find yourself caught up in your thoughts and worries? Or maybe you’re just going through the motions of the day and have forgotten to enjoy the little things around you? Stop for a second and focus on your feelings, body sensations and the world around you.
Mindfulness is about knowing directly what is going on inside and outside yourself, moment by moment. It can help you live in the present moment and block out worries (like the endless ‘To Do’ list in your head). In pregnancy, it can also help you bond and connect with your unborn baby.
2. Pregnancy yoga
Yoga is an activity that focuses on mental and physical wellbeing. Yoga in pregnancy is a great way to stay active, strengthen your body and ease aches and pains through stretching. It can also be used during an active birth, helping you manage pain and get the baby into the best position through breathing techniques and positions. If you’re new to yoga, it’s best to choose a class for pregnant women and wait until you’re 14 weeks to start. Yoga classes often end with a meditation session, which can do wonders if you’re feeling stressed. Tommy’s researchers have shown that weekly yoga sessions can help reduce anxiety and depression in pregnancy.
“I did a pregnancy yoga course through all three of my pregnancies. It’s the one thing I always recommend, it helped me bond with my babies and relax.”
3. Be kind to yourself
Little things add up. Allow yourself a long, indulgent soak in the bath when you can. Buy yourself some relaxing music, or a hypnobirthing CD, to fall asleep to at night. Try to give time for yourself each day to rest and free your mind of worries. Find the best place for you enjoy this quiet time. For some, it might be going for a run. For others. simply sitting down with a magazine and a cuppa will help. Whatever works for you. You could also try NHS Choice’s guide to relaxed breathing and deep muscle relaxation.
4. Complementary therapies
Many complementary therapies are safe to try in pregnancy, but it’s worth a chat with your midwife to make sure. A pregnancy-specific massage could soothe stress. But don’t have one for the first 3 months of pregnancy because your abdomen should not be massaged during this time. Lots of people find reflexology very relaxing. This is a massage based on the theory that reflex points on the feet, hands and head connect to other parts of the body.
Avoid taking herbal remedies, such as St John’s wort because we don’t know if they are safe to take in pregnancy.
5. Exercise, like swimming and walking
It’s safe to exercise in pregnancy. In fact, it’s extremely helpful and highly recommended. It may not sound appealing, especially if you’re feeling sick, tired, or heavy. But trust us, going for regular gentle walks, or relaxing swims can benefit your body, your baby and your labour.
Take a look at Tommy’s pregnancy and post-birth wellbeing plan to give yourself a mental health MOT.