We’ve decided, at 15 weeks, to start sharing our news. I’ve been incredibly reluctant to tell anybody that we are expecting a baby because I don’t think I am actually EXPECTING it to happen. I can’t let myself believe it because I feel to let my guard down will open me up to the possibility of hurt when it does go wrong again. As my stomach swells it is becoming more obvious and soon everybody will be aware but I just feel very protective of our secret and keen to keep it between my husband and I. Telling people makes it scarily real. There will be no announcement or phone calls but we will mention it to our friends when we see them and tell them not to make a big deal of it. Scary stuff.
20 Scientifically-Backed Ways to Ease Stress
The road to motherhood can be unbelievably stressful. With that in mind, here are 20 ways, backed up by good scientific evidence, to keep your stress in check:
1. Go For A 10 Minute Walk
While just about any walk will help to clear your head and boost endorphins, green spaces, can put your body into a state of meditation, thanks to a phenomenon known as “involuntary attention” during which something holds our attention, but simultaneously allows for reflection.
2. Breathe Deeply
Any yogi knows that the breath — known as pranayama or “life force” — plays an important role in nourishing the body. Breathing exercises – or even just taking a few deep breaths – can help reduce tension and relieve stress, thanks to an extra boost of oxygen.
Simply make yourself comfortable and then try to picture a relaxing scene.
4. Eat A Snack
Stress-eating doesn’t have to be bad. Pick a snack that will fill you up — say, half an avocado, a handful of nuts or a hard boiled egg — because nothing is more stressful to the brain than feeling like you’ve run out of nourishment. Focus on your food: its texture, the way it tastes, how it makes you feel. Now you’ve turned your snack into a meditation.
5. Buy Yourself A Plant
Houseplants can actually help you calm down. Researchers have found that simply being around plants can induce your relaxation response.
6. Step Away From The Screen
Uninterrupted computer use has been associated with stress, lost sleep and depression in women. Make sure to take frequent breaks during your day of computer use — and try to shut offline at least an hour before bedtime.
7. Pucker Up
Kissing relieves stress by helping your brain to release endorphins.
8. Try This Naam Yoga Hand Trick
Applying pressure to the space between your second and third knuckle (the joints at the base of your pointer and middle fingers) can help to create a sense of instant calm.
9. Hang Up, Then Turn Off Your Phone
Mobile phones stress you out. Talking can even raise your blood pressure.
10. Put On Some Music
While classical music has a particularly soothing effect — it slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure and even decreases levels of stress hormones — any music that you love will flood your brain with feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine.
11. Treat Yourself!
Eating or drinking something sweet is soothing because it stems the production of the stress hormone, glucocorticoid.
12. Or, On The Other Hand, Plug In
Yes, screens can stress you out. But used in the right way, there’s no reason you can’t turn to the Internet to get a little stress relief such as web-based stress management programs.
13. Chew A Piece Of Gum
Chewing gum doesn’t just make your breath better — it can relieve anxiety, improve alertness and reduce stress during episodes of multitasking.
14. Watch A Viral Video
A good laugh is a fine relaxation technique. What’s more, even if you don’t find the viral video your uncle Joe sent you to be that funny, just the anticipation that it might be will actually boost endorphins.
15. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Start with your toes and work your way up: tighten your foot muscles as much as you can, then relax them. Make your way up, tightening and relaxing each muscle until you’ve finished with your face. It may seem silly, but this practice can help reduce anxiety and stress.
16. Seriously, Turn Off Your Phone
Smartphones, in particular, are linked to increased stress, as more and more people feel pressure to respond to messages at all times.
17. See Your BFF
Friends aren’t just fun — your very closest ones can actually reduce your production of cortisol.
18. Eat A Banana (Or A Potato!)
Potassium helps to regulate blood pressure, which rises during times of stress.
19. Try Eagle Pose
Many yoga poses are known stress relievers, as they open the shoulders, relieve neck tension and do away with many of the physical symptoms of stress. Eagle pose is a prime example of how a brief asana can target back and neck tension. Learn how to do the pose here.
Repetitive motions — like the fine motor skills used to knit– can soothe anxiety.
Try one today!
So the scan on Monday was, as predicted, an emotional affair! I was anxious beforehand but I was not expecting the surge of tears that came as I lay down on the bed for the scan. I suppose it was a painful reminder of the last awful scan which took place in that same Fetal Medicine Unit. When I apologised to the doctor for being a crazy person he said very kindly, and perhaps dishonestly, that he’d seen worse.
Once I had overcome the initial shock and sobbing I just waited and watched intently for the doctors reaction. Having decided not to look at the monitor, all I could do was grip my husbands hand and hope things looked normal. My husband, braver than I, did look. I glanced over occasionally.
We knew that at 12 weeks the baby would be too small for a conclusive assessment of the babies health and that that was not likely until 16 weeks. However our excellent doctor is a specialist in the early detection of birth defects and he told us that based on the early examinations he feels confident that things seem well. The doctor stressed that he needs to scan me again next week and until he can look at things more closely he won’t know with enough certainty.
Next week we should know more. It’s a good first step. And we feel very confident in the care of an Israeli-educated specialist (probably the world’s finest) and a kind and compassionate midwife. For now we can take a mini sigh of relief.
What not to say to a woman who can’t get pregnant
Author Tracy Buchanan has ‘dodgy eggs’ and struggled to conceive for five years. During that time, she was flabbergasted by some of the ‘comforting’ advice she got – even from well-meaning friends. Here, she explains what not to say:
- ‘Kids are a nightmare anyway, you’re better off without them’
- ‘Don’t worry, it’ll happen, I just know it’
- ‘I bet you’ll get pregnant on holiday’
- ‘So-and-so got pregnant on her tenth round of IVF!’
- ‘There’s always adoption’
- ‘Oh, I didn’t mention so-and-so was pregnant, I thought it might upset you’
- ‘It’s G-d’s way’
My advice is to be realistic without being negative.You might be tempted to be overly positive but it’s frustrating to hear. Let your infertile friend vent without adding your own opinions or dismissing them when they try to be realistic. All you need to do is listen. Make it clear you’re there for them. If they need to talk or ask your advice, they will.
If you, like me, are paranoid and fearful about your baby’s health you may have entertained the idea of buying a doppler, the machine that detects the baby’s heartbeat. I thought that perhaps it would put my mind at ease if I could continuously check the baby was still alive. Hand-held Dopplers are thought to be perfectly safe, however, most doctors and midwives advise against using them at home. Dopplers are meant for professionals, who are trained in finding a baby’s heartbeat. Not being able to find your baby’s heartbeat could cause you a lot of worry. And you can’t always be sure that it’s your baby’s heartbeat that you are hearing. It’s very easy to pick up the sound of blood flowing through the placenta, or your own vessels, and mistake it for a heartbeat. This may cause you to be falsely reassured. On that basis I have decided not to get one. Let me know if you are using one at home and whether it is easing your worries.
Inevitably a number of my friends, or ladies I know, have had babies or announced their pregnancies during the time when we were consumed by sadness at the loss of our baby. Of course a part of me was filled with jealousy. It made me feel like a bad person. However I realised it was only natural to feel this way. I felt robbed of the baby I was expecting. When I felt bad I reminded myself that I was still happy for them, I just wished I could have the same. There was no need to feel guilty about completely normal emotions. So if you feel that way don’t be too hard on yourself. Also remember that just because they are having a baby doesn’t mean there is one less in the world for you!
One of my best friends was due a week before me and we had excitedly discussed our pregnancies and maternity leave together. When I lost our baby it was hard to see her progress through her pregnancy. I felt that I should be doing the same. She totally understood when I needed not to see her for a bit and was beyond understanding about my emotions. Her gorgeous baby has now arrived and I adore him. However I was worried about how jealous I might feel and, based on my experiences, whether the labour would go safely. Thankfully all went well. And I can say with complete honesty that I feel nothing but happiness for her. When I saw his little face it was impossible not to feel joyous. He is a bundle of loveliness and a blessing to my friend. Obviously I wish I could be in that position but now that I am pregnant I at least feel there is a chance of that being me someday. And when I do I know she will be absolutely thrilled for me too.
Shout out to baby E! Love Auntie K x
Over the last few months my husband and I have been embracing our inner hippy by using a series of meditation and mindfulness podcasts to reduce stress. Like anything else it is a skill that needs learning. The series of short exercises, initially just 10 minutes a day, from Headspace shows you how you can master this invaluable skill. Andy Puddicombe, with his reassuing and calming voice, teaches you useful techniques that have assisted the management of our worries and anxiety during the IVF process. Many times I have fallen asleep mid-podcast, that’s just how calming it is! It leads to some much needed peace of mind and well-being.
Check it out at http://www.headspace.com
I’m having trouble sleeping. It is partly the hot summer nights and partly the pregnancy. Not that I am complaining. Quite the opposite. I am eager to spot these symptoms as I am a little panicked that since I feel fine something awful has happened.
No last night it was undoubtedly due to two consecutive nightmares. One horribly vivid one featured a doctor telling me that this baby was also severely ill and that we should terminate the pregnancy, again. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that having lost our first baby at 21 weeks I am anxious about the pregnancy.
I just so desperately want this one to work out. I was expecting these fears, and the rational part of me knows that is all they are. But there is still a small voice in the back in my mind saying ‘what if it happens again?’. Despite this I would still choose pregnant and anxious over not pregnant and anxious. Why do I feel like I am between the devil and the deep blue sea?
When you are desperate to be pregnant mums-to-be and mums with newborns seem to be everywhere! EVERYWHERE! They are always seated next to me in restaurants and walking beside me in the street. Everywhere I look there they bloody are. They seem to smell my desperation and envy and follow me. Hampstead, home to the yummiest of mummies, has groups of mums that walk 5 prams wide down the high street with smug expressions and an air of contentment that makes me want to slap them.
Worse is mums who complain of their tiredness and struggles. I want to shake them violently and say ‘don’t you realise how fortunate you are?’. Luckily I don’t. Deep breaths. It serves to remind myself that perhaps they had a struggle to get to motherhood too. Perhaps, I pray, that will be me one day.