In recent health there has really been a focus on mental health. For so long it was neglected and too taboo to speak about. But, luckily you are in a time where prioritizing your mental health for pregnancy is just as valuable as your physical health. Of course eating right, getting enough rest, and staying active are great ways to have a healthy pregnancy, but thinking about your mental and emotional state can have a huge impact on your health. Actually, chronic stress and mental illness can negatively impact your baby and your health. Staying mentally healthy while pregnant should be a priority and it can be really fun to do as well. Staying mentally healthy can come and go like a wave, but ultimately it all boils down to doing your best to stay present in the moment and doing things that you enjoy doing and are good for the body, mind, and spirit.
Exercise is essential for lowering your risk of disease and staying in shape, but did you know that exercise can play a role in your mental health as well? Exercise actually releases endorphins, naturally produced opioids, that are essentially “feel good” hormones. During and after exercise, endorphins are released allowing you to reduce your stress and have a positive attitude. Ever heard of a runners high? These endorphins are what cause it and what can make exercising so enjoyable, after you get past the hard work part. Exercise can also offer you a time to get into flow mode. You are totally focused on the exercise at hand so you do not have time to ponder life’s responsibilities and obligations. Exercise is a great way to prioritize your mental health and get physical benefits as well.
You do not have to be a buddhist monk or a yogi to practice meditation. It has many stress and anxiety reducing qualities that can benefit your mental health. Meditation uses many techniques including mindfulness, breathing techniques, and visualization to increase your awareness and allow you to be present in the moment. They call meditation a practice, because it takes just that, practice. In the beginning you may find your mind wandering and getting caught up in what you are going to make for dinner later that day, but with time you will improve. Instead, you will acknowledge the thoughts and let them pass like a wave. These techniques will be able to implement them in your everyday life and feel more grounded and centered.
Taking a Childbirth Education Course
Some of the struggles in pregnancy are related to the unknown of birth. A great way to reduce some of your birth anxiety is to take a childbirth education class. They are usually offered at your hospital, birth center, pregnancy resource center, community center, or even online. With the growing technology and social distancing, many childbirth education courses have gone virtual. Virtual meetings make it more convenient for you to find a class that fits your schedules and needs. Learning about the birthing and postpartum processes alongside other new parents is a great way to ease your anxiety and boost your confidence. The more you know, the less there is to be fearful of.
Speaking With Social Supports
Since the beginning of time pregnancy and birth has included social support. Even in animal species, such as the elephant, others gather around during the pregnancy and birth to support the new parent. Social support will allow you to share your thoughts and experiences with others who can listen and even provide advice if you need it. The most important thing about social support is that you know you are not alone and can get things off of your chest. If you do not have a partner, family member, or friend to support you, your healthcare provider is a great resource to speak with to address any of your concerns. They may even recommend a social support group full of people that are going through the same experiences that you are. Everyone deserves to feel connected and supported, so do not hesitate to reach out to others.
Your mental health during pregnancy has so many important features. If none of these suggestions spoke to you consider just taking a little time for yourself to do the things you enjoy doing. This could be as simple as doing an at home facial or as extravagant as treating yourself to a dinner at your favorite restaurant. No matter what you decide to do, remember that you are important and deserving of mental clarity. With all of the change happening in your life it is okay to feel uneasy, just do not allow it to consume your life or overwhelm. Create positive coping habits that serve yourself and so that you can act as a role model for your child and family to prioritize their own mental health as well.