It’s normal to feel stress about all the changes going on in your life and your body during pregnancy. Pregnancy with gestational diabetes can be even more stressful given how you must closely monitor your blood glucose and its effects on you and your baby.
A little bit of stress can even be good. It can motivate you to prepare for your new life with your baby. However too much stress, if poorly managed, can have negative effects on you and your baby. Stress can cause high blood pressure and your blood sugar to rise. Most expectant mothers who undergo a normal amount of stress usually give birth to healthy babies but if you feel stressed all the time, you should speak to your health care provider.
What’s stressing you out?
Sometimes you can pinpoint what may be stressing you out and other times you may not realize the factors that could be stressing you out. Stress can be caused by many things, which may include:
Physical stressors – Changes in your body, having fever, aches and pain in your body, any other illnesses or sleeplessness
Environment stressors – Weather, noise, housing issues, traffic
Social and emotional stressors – Concern for your baby, relationships, family demands, guilt, loss
Financial stressors – Bills, debts, job or business woes
How do you know it’s stress?
When we say we are stressed we are mostly describing how our mind and body is reacting to the things that stress us out. Sometimes, we may not realize that certain actions and thoughts we have are due to stress.
When you’re stressed you may respond emotionally by getting easily irritated or moody and your body may feel fatigued, you may have a headache or experience muscle aches. Constant worry and inability to focus are also commonly related to being stressed. These factors can also result in a change of appetite, procrastination or other nervous habits like biting your nails.
You should be cognizant of these behaviours creeping into your life. When you identify that you are stressed, you can take steps to tackle what may be stressing you out.
How do I manage my stress?
1. Practice saying “No”
Volunteered for an activity at your child’s school and can’t manage it? Promised a colleague you’ll cover for them while they’re on vacation? Don’t commit to things which you feel are not very important for you to do but you feel pressured to say yes in the moment. It’s OK to politely refuse and explain your situation. Gestational diabetes needs your close attention for the sake of your baby and you shouldn’t have to compromise that for social etiquettes.
2. Share your responsibilities
Don’t be afraid to speak out when you have too much on your plate. At home, ask your partner and other family members to pitch in with managing the household chores and other commitments.
At work, talk to your boss and colleagues if you feel you are not able to manage your workload and try to come up with a work division which takes in account your pregnancy and how much work you can commit to.
3. Take charge of your time
It’s never too late to get organized! If you are stressed about all your commitments, plan your day out with a realistic schedule. Don’t try to fit in too many activities in one day and try to take some time out to relax. A good way to organize yourself is to plan ahead in your phone calendar or you can print out a planner to put on your fridge like this one by Scattered Squirrel.
4. Use problem solving
Try to break down the problem which is stressing you out and tackle it in a piecemeal manner.
Some steps you can follow are:
- Describe the problem you are facing in detail
- Brainstorm options and pick one to try
- Make an action plan
- Try it and see how it goes and try another idea if the first one doesn’t work
5. Plan ahead
You can be more prepared to handle stressful situations if you are able to plan ahead. Anticipating your schedule and when stressful situations may arise will help you plan ahead to counter them.
6. Keep things in perspective
When you are stressed, it’s important to remember all the good things in your life. Counting your blessings can greatly alter your attitude and help you feel calmer.
7. Talk it out
If something is bothering you or stressing you out, it’s always a good idea to talk about it with a friend or family member. Talking can help you feel lighter and may also help you see view a different perspective of the situation you are stressed about. If you have any concerns about your pregnancy, get advice from other moms in your circle and always consult your doctor for any medical advice.
8. Focus on wellness
Stress can be countered with a healthy lifestyle. Since gestational diabetes requires you to monitor your diet and cut down on high carb and high calorie foods, that is a good opportunity to eat fresh and nutritious foods which can help calm you down.
Exercise is also a great de-stressor and mood booster so regular physical activity can help to control your stress levels.
It’s also important to get enough sleep – if you aren’t well rested, you’ll be easily stressed and agitated.
Practicing relaxation techniques like meditation, or prayer are great wellness practices to help calm you down.
9. Take a ten minute “time out”
Learn to recognize stress building up right away and try to nip in the bud. A good way to do that is to do a “time-out”. Stop what you are doing and de-stress with your favorite relaxation technique. Meditation, prayer, yoga, or deep breathing all work well but if you’d rather relax with a manicure or a warm bath do that instead!
10. Focus on your baby
Being pregnant is an important time for you and your baby. Your baby is developing and growing rapidly during the last few months of your pregnancy and it’s important to ensure that your stress does not affect his/her growth. Take time out to appreciate your pregnancy and enjoy it- talk and sing to your baby, think about how to decorate his/her room or buy some of your favorite baby books for him/her.