The words "pregnancy" and "relaxation" don't typically go hand in hand -- especially given the onslaught of hormonal and bodily changes that are sometimes extremely difficult to take in stride, not to mention the emotional upheaval. Of course, on the flip side of things, some pregnant women experience a very easy, blissful nine months and glow from beginning to end! (Lucky them!) Pregnancy is the ideal time to learn how to unwind, stay healthy, manage stress and process emotions so your body can direct all of its energy toward growing a human being -- and so your baby is hosted in as happy and serene an environment as possible! Read on for five natural ways to relax during this important time in your family and your baby's development.
1. Go on a Babymoon Vacation
You’ve heard of a honeymoon, but babymoons have also become popular in recent years — and with good reason. While the true meaning of “babymoon” is a vacation you take with your partner and your new baby, to promote bonding and togetherness, the meaning of the word has been modified to define a last hurrah before baby makes his big debut into the world, officially turning your lives and home upside down and inside out (for the better of course)! Choose a relaxing destination such as a spa resort or beach destination where you can really kick up your feet and release your cares. Your second trimester would be the ideal time to go forth on this journey, once you’re over morning sickness, and before you’re headed for the homestretch. If you don’t have the time or resources to hop a plane and fly to a remote place, consider going to a local spa or resort near your home. The point is that you take time to unwind and relax.
2. Fuel your Body with the Right Foods
Food truly is the body’s fuel, and now you’re responsible for feeding two people (which doesn’t mean doubling your portions)! What you consume will directly affect your mood… whether it elevates your spirits or causes you to feel downtrodden and sluggish. It’s much easier to relax when you maintain a good diet. This means monitoring or foregoing caffeine entirely, see what renown pediatrician Dr. Greene says about caffeine consumption during pregnancy. Dr. Greene also advises that during this crucial time, eat only organic fruits, vegetables, and dairy products to avoid ingesting toxins that would go straight to your baby. We’re all familiar with sugar highs and lows, so although you may experience some intense cravings in which ice cream literally calls your name from the freezer, do your best to use moderation and discretion when it comes to consuming sugar and sweets. Dr. Sears advises that “happy foods” such as such as milk, bananas, and leafy green vegetables may produce pleasant feelings because they stimulate the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine. He adds that “Tryptophan-containing foods also have a relaxing effect.” See Dr. Sears’ list of foods for sleep here.
3. Breathe and Meditate
Breathing and meditation offer two of the best and easiest ways to relax. Practicing proper breathing techniques can improve your overall health, and mindful breathing and meditation may also help reduce stress and anxiety. Dr. Andrew Weil recommends his 4-7-8 relaxing breath exercise as “a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.” Breathing is seen as such a useful tool that the Bradley Method of childbirth goes so far as to incorporate relaxed abdominal breathing into pain relief techniques that may be used during labor. Additionally, deep breathing has a cascading effect on the body as it may help lower blood pressure, relieve tension and enable your circulatory system to be more efficient.
4. Go For a Swim!
Staying fit by exercising regularly during pregnancy will naturally translate into feeling more relaxed. Exercising relieves physical and emotional tension and also helps the body release “feel good” endorphins. Swimming is a great pregnancy exercise. Inhabitots editor Jill Fehrenbacher wrote a comprehensive article about how swimming was highly beneficial to her during her pregnancy. One of the wonderful perks of swimming while pregnant is the feeling of weightlessness you’ll feel in the pool. Swimming is also low-impact and easy on joints and ligaments. Taking a dip in your first trimester may also help relieve nausea and morning sickness — just ask Olympic swimmer and mom, Dara Torres. The backstroke and breaststroke are the best swimming exercises for pregnant women. You may also find water aerobics for pregnant women in your community, which will enable you to make new friends while you workout.
*Consult your doctor or midwife about your exercise regimen to get the “okay” with regard to your specific pregnancy.
Aromatherapy may prove to be an effective relaxation tool for some women during pregnancy. During the first trimester, essential oils including lavender, ginger, lemon and spearmint will help combat nausea from morning sickness. For overall relaxation, “rosewood, calendula, geranium, lavender, ylang ylang, bergamot, sandalwood, frankincense and patchouli are earthy scents that ground, calm, relieve nervous tension and relax individuals.” Aromatherapy is as easy to incorporate into your environment as adding a few drops of essential oils to your bath, to a bowl of water by your bed, or into a handkerchief for inhalation. Re-visit our comprehensive post on how to safely use aromatherapy during pregnancy for more information and tips.
Swim Image: clspeace