Category Archives: Relax and de-stress

The role of hormones during pregnancy

Hormones during pregnancy are some of the main causes for the physical changes. Each hormone released has a purpose for a specific stage in gestation. Hormonal fluctuation can also cause mood swings in the expectant mother.

The main hormones present during pregnancy are:
• Progesterone: stimulates tissue thickness in the uterus to prepare for the fertilized egg, allowing the baby to develop in the womb during the 9 months of pregnancy
• Human chorionic gonadotropin: it’s found in the mother’s bloodstream and stimulates the production of estrogen and progesterone. The presence of this hormone confirms a pregnancy
• Oxytocin: this hormone is in charge of delivery contractions and mother-child attachment
• Prolactin: stimulates the mammary glands in preparation for breastfeeding
• Estrogen: its higher during pregnancy, producing changes in your body, skin, hair and nails

You might find yourself feeling extra sensitive and receptive to other’s emotions and needs during pregnancy. Hormonal fluctuation generates a rollercoaster of emotions, so laughing or crying for no apparent reason could often happen. You might also be more forgetful during the day. However, experts believe that this is due to your being more attentive to your baby’s needs, so other things become irrelevant. Hormones play a big part in pregnancy. Knowing the purpose of each of them could help you understand your emotional reactions better.

Changes in women’s brain during pregnancy

Studies have shown that a woman’s brain changes during pregnancy. Each of these changes has a specific purpose. One of them is that the brain becomes smaller by approximately 7%, which could be due to structural changes or new neuronal connections. Studies show that the areas in charge of affection are activated, and the ones on judgment are deactivated. This is why mothers are less likely to judge their children.A lot of pregnant women feel more absent-minded during pregnancy. However, studies show that maternity stimulates intelligence; therefore, a woman who’s been pregnant experiences positive changes. According to experts, being absent-minded is a result of the expectant mother paying more attention to what she’s doing, and therefore is able to detect when she slips off.

Hormonal changes are pretty evident during pregnancy. The increase of the hormone progesterone lowers cortisol production, which protects the baby from being affected by the mother’s stress. On top of that, the increased levels of oxytocin help create a bond of attachment and trust between the mother and the baby. Oxytocin levels go up during birth to diminish pain, and during breastfeeding to provide milk to the baby.

If these changes are not enough, the mother’s alertness and senses such as smell and hearing are improved during and after pregnancy. This helps mothers distinguish their baby’s crying from others, or sense when their baby is in danger.

Each of these changes in the brain allows the mother to be able to raise and take better care of her baby. Attachment and connection between a mother and her baby start during pregnancy, and increases as the baby are born and growing.

How does relaxation affects the brain?

Some of the best ways to get great benefits for your health is through relaxation therapy. It doesn’t matter if you practice yoga or meditation, relaxing helps your organism get rid of tension and stress. The mind needs to get rid of over stimulation to ensure optimal functioning. Studies have confirmed that practicing relaxation is very beneficial physically and psychologically. Cardiac doctor Herbert Benson studied the effects of relaxation and identified the following benefits:1. Reduces tension and brings relief to muscular pain
2. Reduces blood pressure
3. Lowers the flow of stress-related hormones
4. Promotes deep breathing
5. Lowers cholesterol
6. Boosts self-confidence
7. Improves metabolism
8. Modifies your brainwaves

This and many more reasons show us why relaxing is so important during pregnancy. It doesn’t matter if you practice yoga, meditation, or any other sort of mental or physical exercise that brings peace. Remember that positive and negative emotions affect your developing baby, so try to find ways to reduce stress, negativity, and fear.

The benefits of a good night’s sleep

It’s completely normal to feel tired and with a lack of energy during pregnancy. This is partly due to your baby’s weight gain, as well as the constant need to pee, and symptoms of nausea and/or anxiety. All of these factors can disrupt your sleep, and make you feel even more tired during the day.

As we know, getting a good night’s sleep is key to your health. Now that you’re expecting, it’s really important that you get enough sleep so you can get all the benefits you need for your baby’s healthy development. Here’s a list of the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep during pregnancy:

• Mood improvement. Apart from feeling happy and positive, your mood will also help your baby’s development. Studies show that a negative mindset and depression of expectant mothers could be bad for the baby’s development
• Improves the delivery experience. Getting enough sleep helps one become healthier and therefore helps you feel prepared for delivery. Besides, being well rested will help you have better-exercising habits, which will help prepare your muscles for birth
• Improves your blood flow. The nutrients and oxygen that your baby needs are best distributed when you are well rested
• Benefits your baby. Your physical and mental health boosts your baby’s development. If you feel well rested and calm, so will your baby. Studies have found that the mother’s stress can take a toll on their babies

Don’t let other activities keep you from getting enough sleep. Remember, sleeping at least 8 hours a day is key to keep you and your baby in good health!

Coping with stress during pregnancy

When stress becomes overwhelming and begins to cause insomnia, depression, headaches, or anxiety, your and your baby’s health can be at risk. Learning how to cope with stress is easier than what you might think! There are several techniques that could make this process a lot easier. Once you learn to control your mood in stressful situations, you will be able to keep it up as a habit and get long-term benefits.

Here’s some advice on reducing stress during pregnancy:

• Getting a massage before bed helps ease muscular tension
• Sharing your concerns with other women who are going through the same situation could be really helpful
• Practicing your favorite hobby, be it reading, drawing, or attending a Pilates session could help you distract and feel better
• Listening to your favorite songs helps you unplug from reality for a little while
• Practicing breathing and relaxation exercises may bring peace and feelings of wellness
• Going to the movies or going for a stroll could help you forget any fear or worries you may have

Doing things that you like could help you decrease and even avoid stress during pregnancy. Remember, pregnancy should be a time to rest and enjoy! In case you’re pregnant and you’re going through a traumatic event, going to a professional might be the best choice, that way you may feel better and prevent prolonged stress from affecting your baby’s health.

The causes of stress

Stress during pregnancy is very common since the future mother has a lot of concerns on her mind regarding her baby’s health and development. Stress is an automatic response that all human beings possess since it helps us adapt to new situations or flee from dangerous ones. However, when stress creeps up for long periods of time on an expectant mother, it could cause harm to her and her baby’s health.

What are some of the main causes of chronic stress during pregnancy?

• Work-related stress
• Relationship problems or lack of social support
• Family violence
• Economic problems

The situation is not as important as the way the expectant mother perceives it. So if a woman is lacking social support and this is causing her severe stress, it could be as stressful as the death of a loved one could be on someone else.

Remember that if you are suffering from severe stress, you should try to decrease it as soon as possible. Exercising, breathing, and yoga is great ways to lower stress and anxiety and benefit your health. If you’ve tried these alternatives and stress keeps weighing you down, be sure to talk to your doctor about it.

Your baby is affected by high levels of stress

High-stress levels in pregnant women can be harmful to your baby. Several studies have found that prolonged stress during pregnancy is associated with cognitive and physical and developmental issues. Alcohol and other toxic substances disrupt the baby’s growth and development, just like stress.Some studies have found that the effects associated with prenatal stress are obstetric complications, baby’s underweight, and pre-term delivery.

A study conducted by the Konstanz University in Germany found that children of mothers who suffered violence-related stress were more impulsive, and had trouble controlling their emotions, contrary to those of mothers who didn’t. Another study conducted with mothers who suffered from prenatal stress due to a storm in Quebec had children with a lower IQ and delayed language development, than those of mothers that didn’t. With this studies in mind, severe stress is predicted to have serious effects on the baby’s brain structure, and {his/ her} long-term cognitive development.

More studies on the subject are certainly needed to know the exact repercussions stress has on babies, however, we know that severe stress affects the mother and the baby’s health. This is why learning to control our emotions and the reaction to stressful situations is so important during pregnancy. Exercising every day, as well as engaging in deep breathing and social support is a great way to keep stress levels at bay. Don’t let a situation or thought to rob you from your peace and tranquility, and don’t forget to seek help if you need it.

Fatigue during pregnancy

Even though fatigue is very common during pregnancy, not all women feel tired with the same intensity. Some might feel slightly drowsy, while others feel the need to sleep all the time. Exhaustion can occur from your baby’s weight to the extra work your body’s doing to nurture {him/her}. Besides, having to constantly wake up at night to use the bathroom, or change positions tampers with your sleep cycles and keeps you from getting a good night’s sleep.

Also, some pregnancy-related symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, back pain and hormonal changes could make you more tired during the day.

Fatigue can also arise from mental tiredness due to constant concern for your baby’s health. Relaxation exercises could help you connect your body and mind and make them work better. Practicing relaxation techniques such as prenatal yoga or any other exercise that helps you clear your mind is highly recommended.

A good massage and getting enough nutrients could help you recover all the lost energy. Fatigue is very common during the first trimester, so save up all activities that require the most energy, such as setting up your baby’s nursery, for the second trimester.

The benefits of meditation

Meditation is a practice that doesn’t take long and its benefits are so great that it’s best to incorporate it into your daily or weekly routine.

Several studies have found that meditation increases neural tissue, improves attention, memory, and self-control. Scientists from the UCLA studied and compared MRI scans from people who meditated and people who didn’t. They found that the brains of those who meditated had generated more neurons in the frontal and prefrontal areas of the brain. The results suggest that meditation improves judgment, memory, and decision-making.

How can I begin meditating?

• Choose a quiet place away from noise and distraction
• Close your eyes and make yourself comfortable
• Pay attention to your abdominal breathing
• Clear your mind and let go of any thought or concern

Meditating during pregnancy can provide the following benefits:

• Increases your energy
• Balances hormones
• Boosts well-being
• Improves physical performance and strengthens the body
• Helps maintain peace
• Controls emotions
• Boosts your immune system

Avoiding insomnia

During pregnancy, women go through a lot of physical and hormonal changes. The sum of these changes plus fears and worries about the future baby, along with the frequent need to pee and changes in sleeping positions, could result in sleepless nights. Having a good night’s sleep is key to staying healthy and energized. To sleep well during pregnancy, you must prepare your mind and body a few hours before sleeping.

Tips to avoid insomnia:

• Watch what you eat, especially during the afternoon and night. Some foods such as bananas and whole grain cereal could help you fall asleep. On the other hand, avoid coffee, chocolate, and any other caffeinated beverages
• Avoid napping since it could affect on your sleeping cycles
• Decrease anxiety and fear by talking about your doubts with other women and with your doctor. Worrying too much could cause mental fatigue and insomnia
• Practice relaxation exercises to diminish muscle pain and sleep better
• Try not to exercise a few hours before sleeping. It’s best to do physical activities during the morning