By Marianne McDonald
Stress is unavoidable for many expectant moms. Most experience challenges like holding down a job while heavily pregnant, juggling home and work expectations, or taking care of other children. It’s important to remember that whatever you have to deal with, your baby has to deal with too.
Keep your stress levels to the minimum with these 7 tips from life coach, Judy Klipin:
Maintain a sense of self
Klipin says one of the biggest problems pregnant and current moms face is the feeling that they’ve ‘disappeared’.
“Women need to be mindful about how they’re going to look after and make time for themselves; whether it’s a massage, journaling or even going for a counselling session,” advises Klipin.
Ignore the negativity
“Have healthy boundaries while learning how to let the good stuff in,” says Klipin. Depending on the situation you find yourself in, either physical or emotional boundaries may apply. If you find yourself sitting in a room being regaled by horror birth stories you might choose to excuse yourself from the conversation. “Many women have a hard time standing up for themselves, but you’re perfectly within your rights to say: ‘I feel that it’s not good for me, or my baby, to be part of this conversation.’ You might also choose to remain in the room should you be able to block out the negativity.
You can simply nod and smile, without actually taking anything in. Don’t take on other people’s stuff. If your friend hated breastfeeding it doesn’t mean you will. So don’t pre-empt the experience.”
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
“The sooner moms learn to do this, the better,” says Klipin. “For some reason we want to prove to others how perfect we are, or we don’t want to inconvenience anytone.” She continues by explaining that working moms, especially, try to do everything themselves. Your emotions can be overwhelming as hormones wreak havoc in your body, so make sure to have some alone time and time to bond with your partner.
Don’t be afraid to say no
Whether you’re in your first trimester and feeling nauseous, or in the third and just feeling exhausted, don’t be afraid to say no to social invitations or a request to look after a friend’s kid for the afternoon. “You can be nice about it, but sometimes we’re just far too polite – at our own expense,” says Klipin. “You don’t need to give anyone an explanation. It’s no one’s business if you just feel like wearing pajamas all day and watching TV.”
Focus on the positives
There’s no point being upset about things that are impermanent: “Try to focus on how great your breasts and skin are looking rather than the bit of weight you might have picked up on your bum. Once you have the baby, you’ll likely lose it anyway,” says Klipin.
It doesn’t have to be perfect
“Compare and despair,” says Klipin. “The truth is, your baby could sleep in a shoebox for the first month and wouldn’t know the difference. If you don’t have everything ready in his room, don’t be hard on yourself. “This need to be perfect will also put your partner under pressure. So, instead of comparing yourself to your friend, acknowledge that everyone’s situation is different and find your own way to make things work.”
There are many breathing techniques you can use to calm your nerves whenever you feel overwhelmed. Kanina Foss, a yoga teacher at Yoga Warrior in Johannesburg, describes and easy-to-follow breathing technique focusing on inhalation, retention, and exhalation.
Sit in a comfortable position, relax your shoulders, and focus on your breathing:
- Breathe in slowly for four counts.
- Retain the breath for two counts.
- Breathe out slowly for four counts.
- If you’re feeling comfortable, slowly increase the length of inhalation and exhalation up to six or seven counts, but always keep the retention at two counts.
Marianne is a freelance content creator and copy editor. She has been part of the Living and Loving team in various capacities over the last six years, but since becoming a mom to a boisterous boy, she has found a special interest in parenting issues including discipline, education and early childhood development. When not running after, and negotiating with, her three-year-old, you’ll find her experimenting in the kitchen.