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How to soothe those pregnancy jitters

While reading the news recently you're sure to have come across the articles suggesting an anxiety link to premature birth. Research conducted in the USA by means of questionnaires and follow-up observations of 1820 women found a probable link between higher levels of pregnancy-related anxiety and an increased risk of spontaneous premature birth. This probably seems obvious to some of you and my first-hand experience definitely tends to agree with the research findings.

If you're pregnant then you probably wish you hadn't heard about this study at all. Everyone's at least a bit anxious during pregnancy and worrying about getting worried during your pregnancy is the last thing you want to worry about (!)

So given a probable link between anxiety and premature birth, what can be done to soothe your mind and decrease the pregnancy jitters?

  1. Learn what to expect during your pregnancy

    Talk to your doctor and learn what to expect during a normal pregnancy. Your body and mind will undergo many changes and it helps to know that these changes are usually completely normal.

  2. Develop a support network

    Talk to other mums. Talk to your mum. Talk to your friends. You're sure to find that they've already experienced some of the strange feelings that you're having. Regular social encounters will keep you happy and help to take your mind off any uneasiness you feel.

  3. Identify and reduce other causes of stress

    Unpaid bills, work, chores, relationship worries... Ideally sort these things out before your pregnancy begins but if it's too late for that then at least try to put these stresses aside. If work is stressing you out then request an extended period of leave or consider leaving your job altogether. If your finances are in poor shape then ask mum and dad to help out or arrange a bank loan - you'll still have to deal with the issues sometime, but a healthy pregnancy has to be a higher priority.

    Your partner will likely be stressed aswell, especially during your first pregnancy. It's not easy for a man to cope with the changes of pregnancy. Do your best to keep him at ease and encourage him to return the favour. If things seem to be getting out of control then it could be helpful for him to talk to a specialist so he more easily understands and accepts what is going on.

  4. Learn how to relax

    Regular practice of relaxation techniques will help to reduce anxiety and make you feel healthier at the same time. Attend an aromatherapy or yoga for expectant mums course, buy some tranquil music, take long soothing baths and find some good books to read.

  5. Stay healthy

    A healthy body creates a healthy mind. Unless your doctor has advised otherwise, aim to keep fit. Intensive workouts in the gym are definetly out, but 30-60 minutes per day of gentler exercise like walking or swimming can do wonders for your mind. Eat healthy food and try to limit your intake of the bad stuff. Cravings during pregnancy are very common and normal, but try not to overindulge.

  6. Know that not every pregnancy is alike

    Most mothers of multiple children will tell you that every one of their pregnancies was different. Sure, some things will be the same (cravings, lethargy, and so on), but it's amazing just how different one pregnancy can be compared to others. Don't stress over the little things. Put your mind at ease - know that you're sure to feel different this time but keep your doctor's number handy to help allay fears that something's wrong.

  7. Don't overload on information

    If this is your first pregnancy then you understandably want to learn a lot about it and how your life will change afterwards. By all means do some reading and attend some courses if that makes you feel good, but resist the temptation for information overload. If you read up on possible causes for every ache and pain and everything that can possibly go wrong with a pregnancy then you're setting yourself up for more stress. Take it easy. Read to learn and enjoy but don't over-do it.

If things are really getting out of hand, then talk to your doctor and ask to be referred to a therapist to help understand the causes and solutions to your worries. Once you learn how to reduce stress you'll be able to enjoy your pregnancy that much more.

By emerald 5-Sep-2007
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