If you’re a regular reader, you’ll have picked up that the tone of my latest posts have been far from jubilant. With that in mind, I thought it would be timely to write a post about dealing with work stress whilst pregnant. I’m sure I can’t be the only one out there to be feeling like this.
Stress comes in all forms. We don’t all react to it the same way, and what can be stressful for one person isn’t the same as what’s stressful for someone else, and that’s before you even throw pregnancy into the mix. I’ll be honest – I hate the word stress. I think it comes with a lot of negative connotations, and it’s a hard thing to admit to feeling without sounding like you’re being melodramatic and self-pitying. But, if there’s anything I’ve learned over the past year or so, it’s that being able to recognise the signs of stress in yourself, acknowledging them, and knowing how to deal with them can really help. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s not attention-seeking, it’s just plain common sense.
I’m a sucker for dolling out advice but not following it myself so this post is an attempt to turn that track record around., with a little help from some other bloggers along the way.
I’ve done a bit of research online and had a look at what some of the big baby-pregnancy websites recommend when dealing with anxiety or stress whilst pregnant but some of it I just felt was a waste of time and not very practical. The Babycentre for example recommends reading a self-help book or taking an online course in dealing with anxiety. My answer to that? If I had the time to do that, I wouldn’t be stressed in the first place. Maybe that’s one to do BEFORE a period of stress: a preventative measure, rather than a treatment.
This is what I’ve found useful:
Don’t put pressure on yourself, you don’t have to do everything.
I think it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be superwoman – to want to juggle work, family and a social life with ease and poise, being all things to all people, making it all seem effortless and looking fabulous at the same time. Remind yourself: you don’t. No one else expects this of you. And if they do? They don’t have your best interests in mind.
I’m terrible for just saying ‘yes’ to everything, especially at work. I don’t want to be seen to be unable to cope or feel like I’m ‘failing’, so if I’m asked to do anything – I just put it on my ever increasing to-do list and panic to myself about how I’m going to find the time. I’m trying to be better at being realistic about what I can feasibly achieve within my set working hours. Sometimes, it’s good to say ‘no’.
Pinpoint when the crunch times are
If your stress is due to a busy period, it helps to identify when the crunch times are. This isn’t necessarily the same as when the busy period is. In my job, for example, I organise lots of events for school groups. Most of the work involved happens before the actual events themselves, so whilst it may look as though a particular week is jam packed with events, it’s likely that my time leading up to that busy week would be more difficult to manage than the week itself.
Once you’ve identified the crunch points, also identify when things might quieten down. Just knowing that you’ve got some breathing room in the future can make all the difference.
MAKE breathing room
If you can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, put a plan in place to create some. This might mean talking to your line manager about getting additional help, or planning to take some annual leave. It might mean booking a weekend away, or a spa day or even just designating one day of your weekend as a complete slob out day. Make sure you have something to look forward to.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
I’m proud and stubborn by nature, which means I’m never one to usually admit to needing or asking for help. And you know what? More fool me. The world is full of lovely, kind-hearted people and many of your friends and family would rush to help you in any way they could, especially when you’re pregnant. So don’t be afraid to ask.
It might be as simple as asking a colleague to pick up your printing from the photocopier or asking a family member to run an errand for you. You’ll probably find people are more than willing to help you out, and deep down you know that already – because you’d do the same for your friends and family in need.
Eat, drink and sleep
I know this is sometimes easier said than done, but make sure you’re getting enough food, enough fluid and enough sleep. My appetite completely disappears when I’m feeling stressed or anxious and it’s a dangerous slippery slope. The more stressed I feel, the less I eat, and then the less able I am to deal with the stress meaning… you guessed it… I feel even more stressed. One day last week I just made the decision that I was going to start the day properly with a big fat bacon sandwich and a big mug of tea, and you know what? I was in SUCH a better mood for it.
Listen to those around you
My last piece of advice, is to listen to those around you. If it feels like everyone is telling you to take it easy and slow down a bit – take that advice on board! Speak to other women and see how they’ve coped in similar situations. What worked or didn’t work for them?
With that in mind, I asked a few blogger friends to share how they coped with stress whilst pregnant, and here’s what they had to say:
During both of my pregnancies, I underwent periods of stress and I worried how this might impact on my baby and the births. To overcome both, I used the same approach – to study and practice hypnobirthing. The meditation and spending a lot of time listening to positive birth affirmations particularly helped me to disconnect from what was going on around me and focus solely on me and my baby. It takes dedication to practice each day in the final weeks of birth but it changed my experiences both times very quickly for the better and I can’t recommend Hypnobirthing highly enough.
Mim from Mama Mim
When I was pregnant I attended a course called mellow bumps, it was all about how to stay relaxed during pregnancy. We did things such as crafts and lying down closing our eyes and imagining relaxing scenes like beaches and listening to the water etc. We also listened to relaxing music… and were given torches to shine on our bumps as apparently they can see the light from inside.
Sarah from The Parenting Trials
I did some relaxations via the headspace app, pregnancy yoga, colouring! Making lists helps me too!
Chelle from The Mumington Post
I used to do pregnancy yoga and pilates every day at home there are some really great videos on You Tube which are quite short and manageable!
Tayla from Motherhood The Real Deal
I did yoga and meditation too. I was buying/selling my house for pretty much the whole of my last pregnancy and it was really stressful. We eventually moved when I was 35 weeks. But yoga did help, just being in the moment and letting go of the stress. Also talking about it a lot with people I trust, because I am an over thinker and a worrier, but vocalising my thoughts made them seem a lot smaller if that makes sense?
Louise from Squished Blueberries
Normally I’m really laid back but I would argue the point over anything when I was pregnant! My favourite way to destress was actually playing farmville – the easy monotony of it would calm me down in the evenings. In the last few weeks I read dozens and dozens of old Victorian school stories for the same reason. I wanted distraction, but TV grated on my nerves and anything more involved just frustrated me!
Jess from Babi a Fi
I suffered with terrible stress and anxiety towards the end of my pregnancy. I dealt with it in a few ways. I found sharing as much of my worries with my husband and close friends as possible really helped for them to be able to offer relevant advice and support. I also tried to take care of myself by eating well, keeping a fairly clean house (untidiness/cleanliness really plays on my stresses) and by sleeping as much as possible. As I’d previously suffered with a traumatic birth, I made sure I got the correct care by the NHS and not just left to have a standard midwife care plan. I’m now 5 days, post-delivery, and feel like I’ve won a huge battle with my anxiety.
Steph from Mental Parentals
So there we have it. A few friendly tips to help anyone out there dealing with stress whilst pregnant. Don’t forget – hormones make life much harder for us pregnant ladies, but we’re all here to support and help each other. Big big love to you all.