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5 Tips for Reducing Stress During Your Pregnancy

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From hormonal changes to worries about the cost of college 18 years from now, pregnancy is a stressful time. According to the March of Dimes, a high level of stress can increase the risk of early labor or an underweight baby, either of which can place your baby at risk of health problems. Actively managing your stress will make your pregnancy more enjoyable and safer for both you and your baby.

Move It Daily

The satisfaction that follows a workout will boost your spirits, and exercise can help you keep pregnancy aches and pains at bay -- helping your overall mood. Avoid exercises you don't enjoy, opting instead for those that soothe you. Take a nature walk or sign up for a pregnancy yoga class. The rhythmic nature and feeling of weightlessness that comes with swimming laps might also be comforting. Stop exercising if you feel dizzy or tired, have heart palpitations or feel overheated, warns KidsHealth, and guard against becoming overheated, even in a cool pool.

Talk Everything Out

It may help to know that other women are dealing with the same worries you face. Ask your doctor or the staff at your birthing center for information about local pregnancy support groups, or seek out an online support group of women whose due dates are near your own. Talking to your partner, family members or friends about your stress may also make it feel more manageable. Another option: start a pregnancy journal. Listing the causes of your stress may help you feel more in control of worrisome issues and help you spot solutions.

Ask For Help

Fatigue is a common experience during pregnancy, and feeling exhausted makes a lengthy to-do list feel overwhelming. Outsource any task you can to a willing friend, family member or paid helper. The March of Dimes suggests seeking help with cleaning the house and getting a ride to appointments with your doctor. When a friend asks if there's anything she can do, take her up on the offer and let her pick up dry cleaning or bring you a meal. Having these daily tasks taken care of should help life feel more manageable.

Get Just the Facts You Need

Worrying about your baby's health and how you'll handle parenting is normal during pregnancy. Rather than scouring the Internet for statistics about birth defects and rare pregnancy complications, take your worries to your doctor. She can reassure you that your pregnancy is on track and give you sound medical advice tailored to you. Sign up for parenting classes to help you feel more confident in your ability to care for your baby. If you're financially stressed, talk to a financial planner about your budget or speak to a social worker about financial assistance for women with children.

Treat Yourself

It sounds simple, but the power of dessert or a chat with a friend is big when you're feeling stressed. Distract yourself from your worries with an activity you enjoy. Go for a drive with your favorite music playing, call a friend or take a long, lazy nap on fresh white sheets. The American Heart Association offers more suggestions for stress-busting activities: work on an art project, take up a new hobby or try a craft like knitting or crocheting.

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