Updated: Oct 1, 2017
Stress takes a toll on your health. In the day to day life we all live now, it seems completely unavoidable. Especially if you’re pregnant and have another child at home or are a new mom. This article will give you easy lifestyle additives and herbs to help manage the stress during your pregnancy.
There are some easy lifestyle changes, or lifestyle additives, that you can do that will greatly help you deal with stress. Especially short ones! There are also herbs that can help. I like to call these herbs my allies because I call on them in my time of need. The ones I’ll talk about today are safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding. Hey, even the act of making tea can go a long way for helping keep the stress at bay. Being a mom is hard! Give yourself a leg up.
Easy Lifestyle Changes to help manage stress
This may seem like a total no-brainer and annoying because you don’t have the time for that. Let me stop you there. 5 minutes. Literally, 5 minutes will set you up to start your day on the right foot or to de-stress during nap time.
Pranayama is amazing breath work to help ground yourself and recenter. It can be done for as little as one minute if you wanted! Describing it can get complicated so I encourage you to check out some videos on it.
For pranayama breathing video I enjoy this one. Yoga with Adriene is so funny and she is so down to earth with her explanations. She does not have any videos explicitly for pregnancy so I encourage you to use videos for prenatal yoga to make sure you aren’t doing any twists that aren’t safe for you and baby.
For a quick 10 minute stretch, or even workout, to make your body feel like your own again I adore Apple Yoga prenatal series. She has 10 minute pregnancy yoga videos on YouTube. Definitely try all four of them but the one I loved most during my pregnancy was this one. It made my body feel like my own again in 10 minutes. I would do it every morning and whenever I could make it to my mat (or floor) during the day. You don’t need to be a pro or even have a yoga mat for these videos!
Okay, this can be as simple as taking the toddler for a walk or as complex as hitting the gym. If you remember from legally blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't.” It’s good not to shoot your husband, just saying.
Plant your feet in the earth, breathe the fresh air, connect with nature. Let the sun shine on you. And feel grateful for your day. Easier said than done but once you start it, it does get easier.
Keep your blood sugar stable
Seriously, no one is nice when they’re hungry. That’s why there’s a word for it. Hangry. Maintain your blood sugar by eating consistent meals, keeping away from processed foods and outright sugar, and keeping up with protein and fats. Your body burns through protein and fats slower than carbohydrates. They tend to keep your blood sugar more stable as opposed to the spiking and crashing that happens with a lot of carbohydrates. If you find you’re having a really hard time with blood sugar make sure you check in with your prenatal practitioner to keep an eye out for gestational diabetes. Something simple you could do to help balance your sugars is to use more cinnamon in your cooking. Just stay away from cinnamon essential oil during pregnancy.
Now for the fun stuff! The herbs.
It’s safest to stay away from them during the first trimester and just let your body do it’s thing. Now I know during the first trimester is when you feel the most crummy. So if you do use herbs just keep it to what your body is already used to and in very, very small doses, like a cup of tea here and there when you really, really need it.
Lemon Balm (or Melissa Officinalis) is a member of the mint family. It has a distinctly lemony smell and taste. It has been used for centuries for any issues of the nervous system, to help with insomnia, and it’s anti-herpes actions. This herb is fabulous for stress and anxiety and is gentle on the stomach. It is my go to when I start feeling the stress weighing on my back and shoulders and my anxiety creeping up. A cup of lemon balm tea would be a wonderful way to calm down before bed if you’ve been having trouble sleeping.
Oats, Milky Oats, and Oatstraw
Oats (Avena Sativa), in all of it’s forms, is so amazing for building up your nervous system. It is a great source of calcium and other vitamins. Oats have been historically used to help the body deal with stress. They are especially good in cases of mental fatigue.Oats can be used in many different forms. Oatmeal in the morning is a good way to start. I recommend steel cut oats as they are less processed and the nutrients are more bioavailable. Milky Oats are absolutely amazing. They are the green tops to oats. A tea made out of these won’t quite have the “hay” taste that oatstraw does. They taste just a little sweeter and a little more grassy. But a cup of oatstraw tea is the cheapest and the easiest! A cup of oatstraw tea has 300 mg of calcium alone. How helpful when building a tiny human!
Chamomile (Matricaria Chamomilla) is an oldie but a goodie. It always gets pushed aside because it’s so common but chamomile has many great benefits. It is a carminative herb, meaning it helps your body expel stuck gas in your digestive system. Chamomile is also a gentle nervine and has ample essential oils. This means that even taking a big breath in of your chamomile tea will have huge benefits on your stress and anxiety levels. Mix it with lemon balm and have an amazing aromatic bedtime tea.
I get the majority of my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs. I find them to be a reputable source and always really good quality. For these teas you can order bulk herbs to make loose teas yourself or just find the teas in packaging at your health food store.
And for the bonus! A supplement.
Why magnesium? Because it is so challenging to get enough through our food anymore. Many women are deficient in magnesium causing leg cramps, eye twitching, heart palpitations, insomnia, foggy brain, and horrible cramps during menstruation. Magnesium is a good thing. It can even help with constipation which is a common issue in pregnancy.
Check with your prenatal practitioner for exact dosing and to ensure that this is safe for your specific pregnancy. For myself I stayed below 500 mg a day. You can get this in a multitude of ways! I especially like magnesium oil. It tingles when you put it on for the first few times so just be aware. You can always dilute it with another carrier oil (like olive or coconut). That is what I do when I use it on my child! You can apply this to your inner arms or thighs before bed. When I was pregnant I found my calves would be super tight and somewhat painful so applying it there would feel really good. Just make sure to put it somewhere your little one can’t easily touch then rub in their eyes.
Or you could take a supplement. Some magnesium supplements may encourage you to have a bowel movement or even give you diarrhea. So be choosy when you pick one. Generally Magnesium Glycinate is better absorbed than magnesium oxide or magnesium citrate.
What do you do for stress in pregnancy? Give some of these a try! I'd love to know what you think!
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