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Stressed. Anxious. Pregnant.

Stress and anxiety are common, incredibly common. On average, 1 in 4 Australians reports feelings of anxiety and 1 in 3 of us will experience depressive symptoms*. As regards stress, well… I would suggest that we are all stressed, regularly, in one way or another.

image via pinterestI’ve written before about how stress takes a toll on your adrenals and my top tips to combat this.

However, not all of these remedies are appropriate when you’re pregnant – and for some women, pregnancy can be an incredibly overwhelming and stressful time!

Don’t worry, I have some tips specifically for you.

DIET

Eat regularly, eat clean and eat enough.

Keeping your blood sugar stable will help to keep your energy and mood stable as well. Also, by eating clean and healthy food, you’ll be feeding yourself with important stress busting nutrients that just won’t be found in processed, packaged and junky foods.

Include a decent protein source in all main meals and most snacks e.g. good quality meat, poultry, eggs, fish, cultured dairy (e.g. natural yoghurt, cheese), legumes, tempeh, nuts, and seeds.

Eat plenty of ‘good’ fat, as this is an important source of energy and plays a big role in nervous system function. Some examples include: nuts and seeds (and nut & seed butters), olive oil, coconut oil (and milk and cream), ‘oily’ fish (e.g. mackeral, salmon, tuna, sardines), eggs, avocado, grass-fed meats, organic butter, natural yoghurt…

Get your sugar from complex carbohydrates (not those simple sugars that wreak havoc on mood, metabolism, hormones and energy) such as fresh fruit and veg, nuts and seeds, legumes, and whole grains.

Stay hydrated. Drink water (fizzy water even, which is especially handy if you’ve got a spot of morning sickness) or herbal teas regularly throughout the day. It will make a difference – I promise. (I have got on my soapbox about the importance of water previously: here and here)

HERBS & NUTRIENTS

Before taking supplements during pregnancy, this must be discussed with a healthcare practitioner who is well versed on the topic. I cannot stress this enough.

The reason certain herbal and nutritional medicines can be useful is because they exert a physiological effect on your body. A great thing! However, this also means that there can be risk of interaction or adverse side effects if these aren’t taken appropriately.

Herbally, nurturing tonics such as Withania can provide excellent support, alongside gentle anxiolytics such as Lavender and Passionflower. Other herbs, which are well known for their use in stress / depression / anxiety, such as St John’s wort may also be included, but only under professional care.

Nutritionally, B-vitamins (which will be found in a good quality pregnancy Multi) and Magnesium are particularly useful for calming the stress response and reducing stress-related symptoms.

LIFESTYLE

www.thelifepod.com.auAs much as possible, move regularly and practice relaxation. Easier said than done, you may answer. And sure, it can prove challenging. However, you don’t have to do this on your own – there are numerous support networks that are designed to help.

For example, local to our practice here in Sydney, there is a wonderful centre – The Life Pod – that offers prenatal yoga classes and calmbirth courses.

The Life Pod, and places like it, provide the perfect space for worried / nervous / stressed-out pregnant mamas to escape to –  several times a week if possible.

You will stretch and strengthen your body, learn how to connect to your breath and learn relaxation techniques that can become a regular practice, even after bub is born.

Regular exercise and relaxation will also help you sleep better. This is an important factor in balancing your mood, as the hours you spend sleeping are the hours your body uses to recover and restore from the stresses of each day. Good sleep also sets you up for better energy when you wake, which will in turn make dealing daily life that much easier.

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Do you have favourite strategies for managing stress and anxiety in pregnancy?

If you are looking for advice on improving your mood, come and have a chat to me at Uclinic. I’d love to help support your health (and pregnancy) journey.

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* REF:  Stress and wellbeing in Australia in 2011: A state of the nation survey    

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About Kathleen Murphy

Australian naturopath and freelance writer, based in Sydney. I love working with people from all walks of life, helping them institute changes that can become life-long health habits. I can be found at Uclinic | 421 Bourke Street, Surry Hills | Ph: 02 9332 0400 |

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