You may have heard that chronic stress during pregnancy is bad for you and your baby. It's true: medical research has repeatedly demonstrated that prenatal maternal stress increases the risk of learning disabilities, low birth-weight, pre-term labor and a plethora of other negative stress-driven outcomes.
Basically, stress is one of your main enemies during pregnancy. Sure, it always was, but now you’ve got to fight it or your child pays the price. The simplest way to combat stress and trigger your relaxation response is to breathe -- deeply, slowly and mindfully.
- Step 1:
Sit up with your spine straight to stretch your lungs and diaphragm fully open.
- Step 2:
Drop your shoulders and let your muscles relax throughout your neck as you loosen and release the stress and tension out of your body.
- Step 3:
Inhale slowly through your nose steadily filling your lungs and diaphragm with clean stress-free oxygen while raising your chin slightly to release any remaining tension at the back of your neck.
Visualize the stress leaving your body as you exhale slowly. Slowly inhale deeply filling your lungs with clean energizing oxygen.
- Step 4:
Hold the breath as long as you comfortably before slowly and steadily exhaling.
- Step 5:
Repeat the above four steps at least 10 times with no more than six breaths per minute.
If you follow these five steps, you’ll lower your heart rate and combat the release of cortisol (a major stress hormone and neurotransmitter) that risks negatively influencing your child’s brain development if continuously exposed to stress-increased levels.
Deep steady breathing calms the heart and relaxes muscles and our circulatory system overall. As we inhale deeply we oxygenate our blood more effectively, which fuels our muscles, feeds our cells, keeps our brain ticking and provides yet one more dose of a vital source of energy necessary to stay alive and nourish our unborn child into a healthy life outside the womb.