Strategies for Managing Stress During Pregnancy

Constant exposure to stress can be detrimental to pregnancy. Below are some strategies you can implement to reduce your prenatal stress levels.
Strategies for Managing Stress During Pregnancy
Alicia Escaño Hidalgo

Written and verified by the psychologist Alicia Escaño Hidalgo.

Last update: 25 August, 2022

How can you manage stress during pregnancy? Without a doubt, pregnancy is one of the most wonderful stages a woman can experience in her life. Similarly, your partner can also find joy in the pregnancy and the baby’s development.

However, it’s you, the mother, who will go through the emotional roller coaster that is pregnancy. Because of that, we’ve compiled a list of strategies to help you manage stress while pregnant.

Stress and pregnancy

The hormonal and biological systems are in control during pregnancy. Still, it remains true that both you and your partner’s psychological systems also play an important role.

Maintaining mental balance, serenity, and calm during pregnancy is essential for the baby’s development, as well as for your physical and psychological health.

Pregnant woman with stress.
The physical and hormonal changes during pregnancy can trigger stress, anxiety, and other emotional changes.

It’s completely normal for pregnant women to experience waves of different emotions throughout their pregnancy. Stress is no exception. At first, you might not recognize yourself physically, and then begin to become aware of the changes to come. This can cause a lot of stress.

As the months pass and you enter the second trimester, you might grow more excited, and your body gets used to housing another being. Nausea and general discomfort ease, fatigue slows down, and you’re likely able to really enjoy your pregnancy. However, as we’ve mentioned, emotional highs and lows continue to hit like tidal waves for most women.

That being said, it’s important to try to manage the stress these emotions can cause. We know stress is can throw off your body’s natural balance, otherwise known as homeostasis, and can put you at risk of getting sick. As a rule of thumb, managing stress is good for everyone, but especially for pregnant women.

Discover: How to Identify and Treat Postpartum Depression

Strategies for dealing with stress

Pregnancy in itself is considered a promoter of biological activation and regularly tops the lists of stressful life events. Half of pregnant women report experiencing more symptoms of anxiety and depression than before pregnancy.

There are several studies that note a positive relationship between a mother experiencing stress while pregnant and children with cognitive or linguistic disabilities (LaPlante, Barr, Brunet et al, 2004).

Furthermore, studies also indicate that fetal development is extremely sensitive to changes in the mother’s emotional state. So much so, that even small levels of stress can affect the fetus.

For these reasons, we’d like to share a few strategies to help you control your stress levels starting today:

Spend time with other pregnant women

Pregnant woman exercising.
Doing activities with other pregnant women can be beneficial for maintaining healthy levels of stress.

Social support is a great stress buffer for anyone. As for pregnant women, it has been shown that spending time with other women in the same situation significantly reduces stress levels.

This is likely because positive social relationships allow us to share our experiences, express ourselves emotionally without being judged, and receive positive social reinforcements that increase serotonin naturally.

Do laughter therapy

Laughter and humor are powerful anti-stress tools. Whenever you can, watch funny videos, put on a movie that makes you laugh, or simply laugh with your partner…just because! You’ll see that after a few minutes, the two of you will be overcome with giggles.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness has many benefits, including helping to stave off prenatal stress. It involves exercises that allow us to focus our attention on the here and now, without judgment. Mindfulness can help us gently push away thoughts, guilt, and worry as we connect with the present.

Be realistic

Happy pregnant woman.
Demanding too much of yourself during pregnancy can harm your mental health. Try to stay away from pressure and negative thoughts.

Express your emotions

Don’t suppress your feelings and emotions because of what people might think of you or for fear of looking weak. Pregnant women go through endless emotions, some unpleasant. If you feel like you need to cry, don’t hold back. Bottling up those emotions will only increase your stress levels.

In conclusion

Pregnant women can do a lot on their end to manage stress, but this only goes so far. Women need support from their partners, who would be wise to be more gentle with the emotional changes, offer empathy and understanding, and be ready to let go of certain arguments or issues.

In this way, you won’t feel so much pressure, which will help free you from the stress that pregnancy itself can bring. It’s not about “treating the pregnant woman like a queen,” rather, being more compassionate and, of course, empathetic.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • García-Esteve, Miyar, V. (2017), Manual de Psiquiatria Perinatal. Guía para el manejo de los trastornos mentales durante el embarazo, posparto y lactancia. Editorial Panamericana.
  • T., F. (1994). The effects of mother’s physical and emotional unavailability on emotion regulation. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development.
  • González-Ochoa R, Sánchez-Rodríguez EN, Chavarría A, Gutiérrez-Ospina G, Romo-González T. Evaluating Stress during Pregnancy: Do We Have the Right Conceptions and the Correct Tools to Assess It?. J Pregnancy. 2018;2018:4857065. Published 2018 Feb 1. doi:10.1155/2018/4857065
  • Dunkel Schetter C, Tanner L. Anxiety, depression and stress in pregnancy: implications for mothers, children, research, and practice. Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2012;25(2):141–148. doi:10.1097/YCO.0b013e3283503680
  • Coussons-Read ME. Effects of prenatal stress on pregnancy and human development: mechanisms and pathways. Obstet Med. 2013;6(2):52–57. doi:10.1177/1753495X12473751jjj

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.