relaxed pregnant woman lying on the grass
Pregnancy relaxation techniques: keeping it calm

Breathe in, breathe out. You might be saying this (or some version of it) to yourself while you’re coping with pregnancy symptoms, anxiety about childbirth, and everything in between. It is well known that stress hormones hinder the development of a fetus, and your own ability to nurture, so you’ll probably receive the same piece of advice over and over while you’re pregnant: relax. If you’re used to a fast-paced lifestyle, this is easier said than done--here are some tips to stay cool as a cucumber:

  • Deep breathing: This might sound like a useless endeavor, but breathing with your diaphragm in through your nose and out through your mouth is a proven technique to lower your heart rate and release tension throughout your body. You can lie on your back or on your left side if you’re in your second or third trimester. Inhale, hold your breath for a few seconds, and exhale for four seconds.
  • Muscle relaxation: If you’re feeling antsy before you sleep, try tensing each muscle from your forehead to your toes for a few seconds and releasing. Applying extra strain throughout your body actually makes you more relaxed for better sleep.
  • Yoga, stretching, and exercise: Working out your muscles during the day will help you stay limber and fall asleep faster. Look around for pregnancy yoga classes, which focus on meditation and relaxation techniques.
  • Prenatal massage: Who can turn down a trip to the spa? If foot rubs from your partner just aren’t cutting it, get a professional treatment tailored to pregnant bodies that will help you relax.

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Sources
  • R Grajeda, R Perez-Escamilla. "Stress during labor and delivery is associated with delayed onset of lactation among Urban Guatemalan women." Journal of Nutrition. 132(10):3055-60. Web. 10/2/2015.
  • S Narendran, R Nagarathna, V Narendran, S Gunasheela, HR Nagendra. "Efficacy of yoga on pregnancy outcome." Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 11(2):237-44. Web. 4/5/2015.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. "Stress management - Stress Basics." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 4/8/2014. Web.
  • Radboud University. "Stress during pregnancy related to infant gut microbiota." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1/26/2015. Web.
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