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Stress During Pregnancy

A Dozen Techniques For Coping With Stress

By Henry Lerner, M.D., OB/GYN

Updated May 15, 2014

4. Make up your mind that you, and not your husband or your mother or your boss or your friends, are going to determine how you feel about your pregnancy and how you cope with it. Other than your medical care providers, you are the best person to determine what your needs are, how hard you should work, how much you should rest, what you should eat, and all other aspects of your behavior during pregnancy. Certainly listen to the advice of both medical professionals and friends and family members that you trust. But don't allow yourself to be made to feel bad by the well-intentioned but often incorrect comments and claims of others.

5. Keep lines of communication open with those you love, especially your spouse. Your spouse, parents, and friends--unless they are currently pregnant themselves--will not know exactly what you are experiencing and cannot anticipate what your wants and needs will be. Let them know. Tell them how you are feeling and how they can help. At the same time you must also be sensitive to the concerns and anxieties your spouse might have, especially if this is your first pregnancy.

6. Don't be a hero. This is especially important if your work environment is in a traditionally "macho" field. Such professions as law, medicine, and corporate life often make demands that are simply impossible for a pregnant woman to fulfill if they are to remain in good health and reasonably sane. Discuss with your spouse and your boss what you can and cannot reasonably do and make adjustments accordingly. Your employer certainly wants you to work as long as you can into your pregnancy. By adjusting your work environment in minor ways you often will be able to contribute much more to your organization than by following your former rigid schedule.

7. Do your homework. Learn as much about pregnancy as you can. Read, talk to friends, attend classes, and talk to your doctor or midwife to learn as much as possible not only about the biology of pregnancy but about its emotional implications as well. In this way if you do begin to experience new and disturbing emotions you'll at least not be surprised by them.

8. Give yourself permission to relax. This means making time specifically for relaxation and not doing so only when the odd spare moment occurs. Take time to do whatever makes you feel good. Read a book, see a movie, have a massage, sleep in late when you can. Each of us has his or her own means of personal "profit-taking". Make sure you do some, do your best to enjoy it, and by no means allow yourself to feel guilty about it.

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