How to Relax During Pregnancy
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Release your shoulders, unclench your jaw and take a deep breath, mama. Whew. While pregnancy is a time that’s full of joy, love and wonder, for many mamas it’s also a time of discomfort, worry, and stress.
Between dealing with everyday life while being pregnant, to worrying about your unborn baby’s safety and health, it’s normal to feel a little (or a lot) overwhelmed while you’re pregnant.
Sometimes when your stress level feels like it’s at an eleven you don’t even remember how to relax anymore. So you’re here for ideas on how to relax during pregnancy.
And I’m so glad you are! Relaxation is very important for your emotional well-being and the well-being of your baby during pregnancy. Some studies have shown links between chronic stress and low birth weight, pre-term labor, and predisposition to behavioral disorders later in life.
I’m not saying this to scare you, mama. I just want you to know you’re in the right place. It is possible to find peace, relax and de-stress during pregnancy. And these 12 ideas are a great place to start!
12 Ways To Relax While Pregnant
Relaxation is a key aspect of prenatal care and well-being. Taking care of yourself is one of the best ways to take care of your unborn baby right now. But this can feel difficult when you’re feeling so physically uncomfortable or overwhelmed by life in general. Add in some anxieties about how baby’s doing and it can be easy to spin out of control.
While the ideas on this list are definitely going to help you address pregnancy-related stress, please reach out to your provider if you think what you’re experiencing is more than just normal stress or anxiety.
Some experts believe that prenatal depression and anxiety may actually be more prevalent than postpartum depression and anxiety, but that it often goes undiagnosed or treated. So for your own sanity and baby’s safety, always speak up about your concerns-- whether they are physical OR emotional.
Now, onto those pregnancy relaxation ideas!
1. Make time to rest
Nothing ramps up worry, mood swings and stress like exhaustion. While you’re carrying around the added pregnancy weight and your body is busy making a human you’re probably feeling more tired than usual.
For that reason, simply making the time to sleep and rest as much as possible is a great way to relax during pregnancy. If you can’t find the time to actually nap during the day, be sure to schedule time where you can put your feet up and zone out for 15-30 minutes.
Putting your feet up while resting is important to help decrease swelling and soreness in your feet, ankles and legs. Many mamas find it’s best to get this rest time in during the late afternoon. By then, whether you’ve been working all day or chasing around your other kiddos at home, your legs and body need a break.
2. Get in the water
You’ve probably heard about the healing powers of water at some point during your life. Well, mama, there is nothing quite as relaxing as being in the water during pregnancy. Especially once you hit the third trimester.
Being in a pool, ocean or lake allows you to feel weightless and move effortlessly. Being very pregnant in the summer, I found myself taking daily trips to our local lake after work to simply walk and do squats in the water. The feeling was heavenly, relaxing and rejuvenating. Click here for more tips on how to survive pregnancy during the summer.
Spending time in the water can also help reduce swelling and joint discomfort. Other ideas to get your relaxation on in the water, no matter the time of year, are to look for a water aerobics classes, pop in to a local indoor pool, or take a warm bath. You and your partner could also take a babymoon near a beach; a babymoon is a vacation you take while you're pregnant.
Just remember not to take a hot bath or use a hot tub, because raising your own body temperature can be dangerous to your baby.
3. Try some breathing exercises or meditation
With the busyness of life and preparing for a newborn, it can be very relaxing to carve out space and time to be present with your unborn baby. A great way to do this is by practicing breathing exercises or meditation.
As a bonus to the relaxation you’ll feel while doing breathing exercises and meditation, there are many guided practices out there that will support you during labor as well. The hypnobirthing method is a particularly powerful way to approach natural birth. It is a birthing model that involves a lot of breathing practice and guided meditation.
To try out some breathing exercises and meditation on your own, simply find a quiet and private space. Consider lighting a candle and decluttering the space to up the relaxation factor a bit. From there, you can:
- Simply sit or lie down and just “be” with your baby
- Think intentional thoughts about motherhood, birth or mentally talk to your little one
- Do some simple breathing techniques like breathing in and out for the same number of counts, or visualizing your body filling with color as you breathe in and changing color as you exhale
- Practice visualizing meaningful and relaxing places in nature, which can be a powerful pain-coping technique during labor
So, if you’re one of those mamas that thinks exercise is the opposite of relaxing, hear me out for a second. Exercising while pregnant, and, yes, I’m even talking about gentle prenatal yoga, walking outside, or swimming, provides so many benefits to you and baby.
It will help you feel less stressed and more relaxed during the day, and for the duration of your pregnancy, if you can prioritize movement at least a few time per week. Research shows that you’ll experience less mood swings and decrease your risk of prenatal depression with aerobic exercise a few times per week.
Exercising causes your brain to release endorphins which make you feel happy and energized. Remember-- a happy and energized mama is a relaxed mama!
5. Schedule some me-time
We’ve already talked about the importance of resting daily. In addition to this, see if you can find some “me time” on the regular as well. This will look different for everyone, but doing something you truly enjoy doing—just for you-- is an excellent way to relax during pregnancy.
Some ideas for me-time during pregnancy might include the ideas in this article, completing a DIY project for baby, taking a trip with your girlfriends, eating a meal out, making time to read a great book, or baking something delicious.
6. Get outside
There’s nothing quite as relaxing during pregnancy (or anytime for that matter!) as unplugging from the digital world and stresses of everyday life and spending time outside. Soak in the sun, feel the elements on your skin and breathe some fresh air. You will be amazed at the relaxation some time spent outside can bring you.
Some ideas for relaxing moments spent outside during pregnancy are:
- An outdoor picnic with your partner or friend
- A DIY outdoor maternity photoshoot
- Time spent resting outdoors at a park
- An outdoor, after dinner stroll
- A low-key, weekend hike
7. Go for a prenatal massage
If there’s one time in your life to splurge on a professional massage, pregnancy is the time! Treating yourself to a prenatal massage is the ultimate form of relaxation for many women. It will relieve some of your pregnancy aches and discomforts and relax your mind.
Find a spa or massage parlor that specializes in prenatal massage to ensure that your experience is safe and enjoyable. Prenatal massage is totally safe for most women experiencing low-risk pregnancies. If you are considered high-risk or have any concerns be sure to talk to your provider before you head in for a massage. There is a very slight risk of prenatal massage prompting pre-term labor.
Want to make sure you get to experience the glory and relaxation of a prenatal massage? Consider putting it on your baby registry! Many guests would be honored to gift you something that will make you feel more comfortable and be enjoyed right away.
8. Pamper yourself
And on the note of prenatal massage, pampering yourself in general is a great way to relax during pregnancy! As your due date approaches, definitely schedule a day to pamper yourself with a pedicure and fresh haircut.
Throughout your pregnancy you can indulge in at-home face masks, luxurious creams and skin care products, and fun body washes. Pampering yourself with some extra-special personal care products can help you feel more beautiful and special at a time when your body is going through so much change.
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9. Talk through stresses and anxiety
When you are feeling stressed or anxious during your pregnancy, try not to internalize these feelings. It’s very natural to feel worried about your unborn baby, impending labor, or how you’ll adjust to life as a mama. This can be especially true if you are a first time mom or if you experienced a miscarriage.
Talking about your worries with your provider, your partner, or another trusted loved one will make a huge difference. Simply sharing your worries aloud release them from your mind and provide some mental relief.
Remember that no stress or anxiety should be discounted or thought to be invalid. Speak up, mama! Your support network will want to know what’s on your mind and do everything they can to help you feel more relaxed.
10. Pay attention to nutrition (see... Healthy Foods To Eat While Pregnant)
Some aspects of stress during pregnancy are physiological in nature. And by this I mean that pregnancy is physically stressful on your body! There is an increase in blood volume, your heart is working harder, you’re carrying around more weight, your ligaments are literally stretching, the list goes on and on.
One thing you can do to help is give your body the proper fuel. By paying attention to your nutrition during pregnancy, you’ll be amazed at how much better your body can feel. And, therefore, how much more capable you’ll be of relaxing.
Some key aspects to keep in mind regarding prenatal nutrition are:
- If you had an average BMI before getting pregnant, you only need to increase your caloric intake by about 300 calories per day in the second and third trimesters.
- Make sure you are getting enough protein because it is important for baby’s brain growth, increasing your blood supply, and strengthening your breast and uterine tissue. Try yummy protein bars or powders to reach your daily goal.
- Focus on getting around 1000 mg of calcium per day, a key nutrient for baby’s developing bones.
- Additionally, be aware of your iron intake, folic acid, and vitamin C which are all important nutrients during pregnancy.
11. Knowledge is power
One thing that can help you relax during pregnancy is learning as much as you can about pregnancy and birth. For many pregnant mamas, their main sources of anxiety and stress (aside from everyday life) stem from the unknowns of pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood.
An excellent way to cope with this and actually relax a bit is through knowledge. Some great places to start include our collection of pregnancy-related articles, taking a childbirth class, asking lots questions at your prenatal appointments, downloading a pregnancy app, and getting a few pregnancy related books.
12. Write letters to your baby
We’ll end this list of ways to relax during pregnancy with a fun and sweet activity: write some letters to your baby! Whenever you are feeling stressed, need a moment to bond with your little one, or just reached a special milestone in your pregnancy, consider writing a letter to baby. This journal is ADORABLE.
Some extra special times to write to baby during pregnancy include:
- When you first find out you are pregnant
- After your first ultrasound
- If/when you find out the gender
- At the turn of each trimester
- In the final days before you’re due
This might be something you do just for you, or you can hold onto your letters and share them with your future son or daughter someday. A friend of mine did this during her pregnancy and made it a tradition to write a letter to her daughter every year around her birthday. She plans to give all of the letters to her daughter when she turns 18. What a wonderful tradition!
Feeling ready to relax a bit during your pregnancy, mama?
With these 12 ideas, you’re ready to de-stress and relax! For most of us, pregnancy is no walk in the park. You deserve some special relaxation time!
On this list, you’ve learned that relaxation during pregnancy comes in many different forms. Some are active, some are indulgent. Some should happen every day, and others are special treats.
Above all, remember there’s not really a wrong way to relax during pregnancy ;) So find what works for you!
National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, The Contribution of Maternal Stress to Preterm Birth: Issues and Considerations, September 2012.
National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, Relaxation during pregnancy: what are the benefits for mother, fetus, and the newborn? A systematic review of the literature, December 2012.
National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, The Interaction Between Chronic Stress and Pregnancy: Preterm Birth from A Biobehavioral Perspective, March 2009.
- Alli Wittbold