Family Holiday Survival Guide

9 Keys for a Stress-free Pregnancy and Childbirth

By Dr Linda Miles

1. Dont let anxiety and stress take a toll: There is a growing body of research that shows anxiety and stress, in some women, lead to pre-term birth, smaller babies, and potential problems later for the child from respiratory illness and developmental delays.

2. It takes simple steps: Reduce the stress risk by using techniques from yoga and meditation. The March of Dimes suggests meditation and exercise designed for pregnant women as effective stress techniques. There are CDs specifically for pregnant women that help enormously. They can even be used during delivery and after the baby is born.

3. Reducing the risk during pregnancy: Women in the past often talked about the need to take it easy during pregnancy. During the 1980s and 1990s there was a tendency to downplay this need as women evolved in the work place. However, Dr. Calvin Hobel, professor of obstetrics at the University of California, Los Angeles has found out that chronic stress in pregnancy can raise the likelihood of complications such as pre-term birth, smaller babies, respiratory illness, or developmental delays. Women who work very hard in high stress jobs may be predisposed of these problems.

4. Develop an attitude of gratitude: Some women are able to operate in high levels of stress without ill effects on their pregnancy. These are women who have positive attitudes and low anxiety levels about life challenges. Mother Theresa once said our greatest protection is a joyful heart.

5. Dont just survive visualize: Visualization techniques include having the pregnant mom picture herself as calm and relaxed. One mom who used these techniques reported that when she did this her baby in utero would become very still. She laughed that the baby went from crawling around her belly to becoming absolutely still. Using these techniques as the child develops can help mom and baby practice relaxation strategies that are known to reduce anxiety and stress.

6. Become a mommy whisperer: Dr. Miles used these techniques extensively during her pregnancy and after her baby boy was born in 1973. Children are so responsive to relaxation techniques that her son would become still and quiet.

7. Steer your career: Moms need to remember they have 30 years left in a career, so she might want to consider taking some down time during pregnancy if she is prone to worry and tension.

8. Learn to self-soothe: Many women have never learned to speak to themselves in kind, loving tones. They may not have received enough mothering. Learning to have a compassionate voice, even when silent, will soothe mom along with her child.

9. Make connections: Social support and nurturing by a partner is linked to higher birth weight and healthier infants. Dr. Miles encourages women to use soft eyes with their partner and continue to make positive connections during pregnancy. It is important for the mother and baby and it generates healing chemicals. Bonding behaviors secrete oxytocin a chemical that leads to positive bonding in the family.

Copyright 2006 Linda Miles Ph.D

Author, Dr. Linda Miles, is deeply committed to helping individuals and couples achieve rewarding relationships. She is an expert with a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology, and hasworked in the mental health field for over thirty years. Find more relationship ideas and relaxation techniques on her web site and in the award-winning book she co-authored, The New Marriage: Transcending the Happily-Ever-After Myth, All Aboard the Brain Train book for parents, and on CD, Train Your Brain: For a Peaceful Pregnancy & Delivery.