Dealing with work stress while pregnant
Having been pregnant once before, I assumed that my second pregnancy would be a stroll in the park. What I didn’t take into consideration was how different my life is now compared to my first pregnancy.
When I fell pregnant with Kieran (my now two year old son) I was completely enthralled with pregnancy and embracing all the magical, mysterious and sometimes downright scary changes that it brought about. I was pretty much a “lady of leisure” at the time and was able to devote 100% of my time to just reveling in the miracle of being with child. My pregnancy became my greatest passion project and I threw myself into countless hours of reading books on everything from pregnancy health to diet to dos and don’ts. I would pore over websites and grill my mommy friends for insight and advice. I started intensive research on the baby’s first year at home and breastfeeding. I lived and breathed everything baby and enjoyed every minute of it. Of course there were moments that weren’t as enchanting (the weight gain, body issues, morning sickness and sore aches and pains) but I was so swept up in the joys that I instantly forgot about all the tough stuff the minute I held Kieran in my arms.
I’m currently in the third trimester of my second pregnancy with another boy and this time around has been a thoroughly different experience. I am now a full time working mummy with not just one but 3-4 consuming jobs. I am the host and producer of Amanda, Loving Life (my new parenting TV show which airs on the Lifestyle Network at 7:30pm on Sundays). I’m also the publisher/content creator/CEO of Glam-O-Mamas (my resource website for mothers: www.glamomamas.com). Not to mention being a wife and handling a loving but rowdy toddler who is in the throes of the terrible twos.
With my first pregnancy I had a gloriously empty plate, which I was free to add to slowly and at my own tempo. Now I feel like I’m juggling starter, main and dessert plates with one hand (sometimes tied behind my back). I went from one end of the spectrum to the other in two short years. It’s been quite fulfilling being back at work, in the thick of things but it is a double-edged sword. I’ve been thrust directly into the challenges and stress of a career while trying to balance family life. Ahhhh, there’s that magic word that is on every mother’s lips (the “unicorn”), too elusive to pin down…balance. It’s a question I get asked almost everyday, “How do you balance your family life with your busy workload? “. Now it is more relevant than ever since I am very pregnant and trying my best not to let the pressure overwhelm me. Unfortunately stress is an inevitable part of life especially when you’re working and have an inordinate amount of commitments and responsibilities to your husband, children, colleagues, friends and yourself! It really comes down to how you cope with stress and seeking balance more than anything else. Trust me, I’m no authority on this subject. I’m still searching for the answer! But there are some things that I do that seem to help me when the going gets tough.
What I do to reduce stress and seek balance while pregnant:
PRENATAL YOGA: Yoga is a wonderful stress buster whether you are pregnant or not. “The benefits of yoga include decreased stress and tension, increased strength and balance, increased flexibility, lowered blood pressure and reduced cortisol levels,” says Beth Shaw, Founder/President of Yogafit Training Systems, Worldwide, Inc., in Torrance, California (http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/yoga-for-stress-management)
I also make sure to take my Solgar Prenatal Nutrients (available at Healthy Options) everyday to ensure I get my required amount of vitamins. It gives me a sense of reassurance since I’m always on the go and perhaps don’t always have the opportunity to eat well all the time.
After yoga I eat healthy snacks which I keep on hand in my bag. I find that if I don’t snack often my energy levels tend to take a dip so I be sure to always have a nutritious snack on hand.
ME TIME (aim for at least 1 hour per day): This is a fairly new and trendy term but the notion is simple. You need to reconnect and ground yourself everyday. Nothing is better for your psyche than taking a moment out of your busy day to unwind, decompress and not have everyone demanding something from you. I love getting a relaxing prenatal massage.
I also enjoy zoning out with a good book or watching some mindless TV. Whatever it takes for me to disconnect and shut down my mind for 60 minutes so that I can recharge my internal batteries and feel prepared to rejoin the world and my responsibilities.
Perfect for “me time” is having a relaxing cup of Organic Easy Now Tea (available at Healthy Options). It is caffeine-free and helps eases stress and tension.
SCHEDULE APPOINTMENTS WITH FAMILY & FRIENDS: It may seem strange that you have to arrange a certain day or time to bond with your family or friends but that’s the reality of life as a working person (how much more when everyone works). It is important to remember to have fun in life as that’s what makes it all worth it. And it has been proven that laughing helps you manage and lessen feelings of anxiety and stress.
One of my favorite parts of my day is when my husband comes home from work and we sit on the couch or in bed and he will give me a lovely foot and hand rub. We just sit and chat about our days and it is a great bonding time for us.
DESIGNATE WORK SPACES & HOURS IN YOUR HOME (draw up a schedule): In this day and age of constant and immediate access, blackberries, social media, instant messaging, skype conferencing etc it is almost impossible to stop working. Many times my husband has brought his “mistress” aka his blackberry to bed. I complain of course, but am also guilty of working all hours on my laptop in bed. I have a hard time with this one but if you can do it designate the bedroom as a no-work zone. Also, it is helpful to draw up a timetable of when work needs to stop and family time can begin.
BREATHING: When it all gets too much I find there is nothing better than taking a few deep belly breaths or practicing pranayama breathing (learned in yoga class). It brings instant relief and you can do it anywhere at anytime. Breathing for stress management is one of the best things you can do for yourself. (there’s even an app for so you can practice wonderful breathing anywhere: Health through Breath – Pranayama By Saagara).
It is rare that stress and work are not married together but it’s important to strive for a relatively calm 40 weeks of pregnancy for both your baby and yourself. Try to practice some of these techniques and suggestions I have given and I guarantee your anxiety level will decrease.
(Catch Amanda on Amanda, Loving Life on the Lifestyle Network every Sunday at 7.30pm)
LIKE us on FACEBOOK: Amanda, Loving Life
All photos by Stanley Ong: http://www.stanleyongphotography.com/
September 3, 2012 by Amanda Griffin-Jacob