At a glance: This article explores five safe and natural home remedies to relieve stress and anxiety during pregnancy you can try in the comfort of your home.
Pregnancy is an exhilarating journey filled with anticipation as you eagerly await to cradle your little one in your arms and shower them with tender kisses and gentle lullabies. However, considering many grey areas during this delightful phase, expectant mothers may feel anxious often.
The don’ts from the next-door aunty, high school friend, coworker, co-shopper, and traffic policewoman, can all put you under tremendous stress. Further, your concerns, like If you are eating too little or too much, Is this exercise safe, If you can sleep on the right side, etc., also add to your woes. And you wonder how to manage your anxiety. Now, don’t let that thought stress you more.
In this engaging guide, we explore a few safe home remedies, empowering mothers-to-be with practical strategies to alleviate anxiety and nurture a sense of tranquillity throughout their pregnancy. From the soothing power of deep breathing to calming herbal teas, let us learn ways to tame anxiety and celebrate the beauty of pregnancy.
Reasons for Anxiety During Pregnancy
Anxiety during pregnancy can be caused by various factors, including:
- Hormonal changes: Pregnancy brings about significant changes in the body, which can elevate stress levels in women.
- Prior failed pregnancies: Women who have experienced miscarriages may fear a similar outcome, leading to high stress and anxiety.
- Sleep difficulties: Excessive worrying and “what if” thoughts can cause sleeplessness and restlessness in some women.
- Worries about balancing work and life: Working women may feel stressed when contemplating how to manage work and personal life after delivery, especially in nuclear families.
- Uncertainties of the financial burden: Expectant mothers often worry about managing the financial responsibilities associated with having a baby, adding to their anxiety during pregnancy.
- First-time Mothers-to-be: First-time mothers often feel overwhelmed by the rules and expectations of pregnancy, fearing they may not do everything right and thus experience increased stress levels.
- Family history of panic attacks or previous diagnosis of anxiety disorders: If the mom-to-be has a family history of mood disorders or has had an earlier diagnosis of panic attacks, depression, etc., she may likely experience anxiety during pregnancy.
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Home remedies to manage anxiety during pregnancy
Anxiety during pregnancy can be effectively managed by prioritising self-care and implementing the following measures.
Engaging in physical activity helps shift focus away from anxiety-inducing issues while releasing endorphins, the mood-enhancing hormones that alleviate stress. Specific exercises such as the following are particularly beneficial.
Note: Each mother-to-be is different, and a form of exercise safe for one may not be safe for another. So please discuss this with your gynaecologist before starting with an exercise plan.
- Prenatal Yoga: Prenatal yoga is a childbirth-preparation exercise that encourages stretching, focused breathing, and relaxation. The stretching exercises prepare your body for childbirth by making the muscles stronger and more flexible. The breathing techniques and relaxing yoga postures uplift mood and reduce symptoms of depression during pregnancy. If your maternity clinic does not teach you prenatal yoga, you may take prenatal yoga classes offered by yoga studios. These studios can guide you on safe yoga during pregnancy and shed light on the benefits for both mothers and babies.
- Low-Impact Exercise: Low-impact exercises such as walking, riding a stationary bike, swimming, treadmills, etc., do not over-exert the pregnant woman and are safe to do in all three trimesters. The benefits include overall fitness, easing constipation, reducing the risk of gestational diabetes, reducing back pain, etc. And, of course, the feel-good endorphins are released, which helps relieve stress and anxiety.
2. Calming herbal remedies
Certain herbs have a calming effect on the mind during pregnancy, helping to relieve anxiety. However, it’s important to exercise caution and consult with a healthcare professional before using them. The following are a few popular herbs that can help calm your mind and body.
- Lemon Balm Tea: Lemon balm, an aromatic herb belonging to the mint family, is considered safe to be consumed as a tea during pregnancy. It is an age-old remedy that reduces stress and anxiety, promotes sleep and improves digestion. It induces a soothing effect on the mind, alleviating anxiety, depression, and mood disorders.
- Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is a popular Ayurvedic medicine that reduces stomach discomfort, aids with insomnia, and helps reduce stress hormones in the body. Pregnant women should take Ashwagandha ONLY under expert supervision, as higher doses may have adverse effects, including miscarriage.
- Chamomile: It is a popular herbal tea that has a calming effect on the mind and body. Though considered safe during pregnancy, some studies recommend avoiding chamomile tea in the third trimester, as it may cause uterine contractions, inducing labour and preterm births.
- Ginger: Studies suggest ginger may influence serotonin levels, which can help reduce anxiety. As such, ginger has other benefits, such as reducing nausea (helpful during the first trimester) and resolving digestive issues (helpful for pregnant women with constipation) and is safe during all three trimesters.
Other helpful herbs that can help include roses, kava, ginseng, basil, and reishi. However, there are limited studies about the safety of these herbs during pregnancy, hence is highly recommended to be used under expert guidance ONLY. In addition, valerian root, although frequently mentioned as an anti-anxiety remedy during pregnancy, is discouraged due to potential side effects in the foetal development of the brain and hence is not safe.
Using essential oils during pregnancy may have several beneficial effects. However, topical application and ingestion can be harmful during pregnancy. And the safest way is to diffuse essential oils for the beneficial effects. Some of the benefits include,
- Relief from achy muscles
- Improve sleep
- Enhance skin elasticity
- Reduce stretch marks
- Relieve nausea
- Ease stomach discomfort
- Decrease swelling
- Reduces anxiety and mental disturbance
The safest essential oils to use during pregnancy include lavender, rose, peppermint, chamomile, and lemon. Other helpful oils include patchouli, frankincense, ginger, argan, and cypress.
Some essential oils, such as wormwood, mugwort, parsley, camphor, pennyroyal, tansy, etc., are unsafe during pregnancy. So use aromatherapy to relieve stress under an expert’s eye.
4. Mindfulness meditation
Meditation is another safe and natural home remedy to relieve stress and anxiety during pregnancy. It can help reduce anxiety by focusing on the present and reducing negative thoughts. Mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques are particularly effective in training the mind to avoid negativity. This healing approach that combines meditation and yoga can help alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, prenatal distress, childbirth fear, and physical discomfort.
The importance of diet stays high throughout pregnancy.
Some foods, like sugary treats, are best avoided, as they may give an instant high but eventually stress your body and mind. On the other hand, foods such as berries and nuts help reduce stress and improve overall well-being.
Nutrients, including magnesium, zinc, manganese, vitamins A, C, and E, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids, help reduce stress levels. Hence, including foods high in these nutrients can naturally alleviate stress and anxiety during pregnancy. A few helpful foods to relieve anxiety are:
- Dark chocolate
- Coffee (Caffeine can make or break. One to two cups will ease stress. More than two cups will create more stress!)
Adopting deep breathing techniques, engaging in gentle exercise, practising mindfulness, seeking comfort in herbal remedies, and eating a healthy diet can all contribute to a calmer state of mind for expectant mothers. By integrating these natural remedies into your daily routine, you can nurture a sense of inner peace, promote healthy emotional well-being, and create a serene environment for both yourself and your precious little one. However, you must remember that every pregnancy journey is unique, and what works for one person may differ for another. Also, know beforehand if the remedy is safe for both the mother and the baby. And stick to the remedies that work for you, and make pregnancy enjoyable.