It may be the most important moment of your life—the moment that you learn that you're pregnant, or you find out that your wife is pregnant. It is a moment of infinite possibilities. You wonder whether your child will grow up to be the next Mozart or the next Marie Curie. You go through baby name books endlessly, wondering what to call your bundle of joy. You go to the paint store, hoping to pick out just the right shade for your child's nursery. You register at a baby merchandise store, hoping to get just what you need for your baby shower.
However, while it can be a time of unbridled joy, pregnancy may also be a period of intense stress. You may be worried about the weight gain associated with pregnancy. Or you may be wondering whether your baby will be healthy. You may be anxious about your finances, especially if they weren't good before the news of your baby's arrival. You may also be wondering how your relationship with your spouse will change as a result of the pregnancy. You may even be wondering how your relationship with your parents will be altered as a result of your new baby. You may also be worried about the experience of childbirth and the amount of pain involved.
Most importantly, you might be stressed out about the responsibilities of parenthood. You may be wondering how good a mother or a father you'll make. You may be wondering whether you'll be a good provider, a good comforter, a good disciplinarian. You might be wondering about feeding schedules and middle-of-the-night diaper changes.
All of these worries are natural. However, it is important that your worries do not cause you intolerable anxiety. There are specific steps you can take to lessen the stress of pregnancy. If you hope to make the transition to parenthood as smooth as possible, it's critical that you follow these simple relaxation techniques.
To begin with, it can be helpful to take a childbirth class. Even if you aren't contemplating natural childbirth, such classes provide a wealth of information—information that can help put your mind at ease. You'll receive information about how to have a healthy pregnancy, about proper diet for the prospective mother, about the process of childbirth, and about the care and feeding of your baby.
In addition, childbirth classes often provide you with information about relaxation techniques. These include not only breathing exercises, but imagery exercises that can help soothe your nerves. The good thing is that you'll be going through the relaxation exercises with your partner, so you can both receive the benefit of them. Many childbirth educators encourage practicing these relaxation exercises right before you go to bed at night, so you can learn how to relax your muscles right before you try to go to sleep.
It may also be a good idea to attend La Leche League meetings during your pregnancy if you intend to breast-feed. Breast-feeding can be a daunting experience for a new mother, so you'll want to get all the information you can about the process. The La Leche League meetings also put you in touch with experienced breast-feeding mothers who can help to coach you through the rough times. Some groups also provide a phone list that you can consult whenever you need advice—anytime of the day or night.
If you're experiencing a great deal of pregnancy-related stress, it is also important that you discuss it with your obstetrician. He or she might have additional recommendations for you, as far as coping techniques are concerned. He or she can also let you know whether your stress is affecting your baby, which can be critically important in putting your mind at ease.
Pregnancy can and should be a joyous time. However, there is little doubt that there is a great deal of stress involved in the process. The more informed you are about pregnancy and childbirth, the better able you will be to cope. Seeking out other mothers and fathers during this critical time can also be important for your emotional well-being. By relying on other people for support, you can reduce your stress level significantly and truly enjoy the latter stages of your pregnancy