Ways to Cope & Deal with Stress at Work During Pregnancy:
Stress at work is common for the average worker. In fact, stress is on the rise worldwide in offices and homes around the world. Seemingly, people are tasks with longer working hours, for less money. However, if you’re pregnant, your level of stress can increase even more dramatically. You’ll certainly want to take steps to help manage stress and work life. In this guide, we’ve come up with some helpful ways to cope & deal with stress at work during pregnancy.
Managing stress can seem daunting. However, this is an important part of having a healthy and happier pregnancy.
The Dangers of Stress During Pregnancy:
Fact is, stress is quite common. Episodes of acute stress to potential physical, emotional, or psychological threats is normal for an individual to have throughout their day. Now the word “threat” seems harsh. However, acute stress could simply be the reaction of the body to simply a phone ringing or an alarm going off. On the contrary, acute stress could also be more serious. For example, a verbal altercation, or response to a natural disaster.
Bottom line, whether the stressor is mild or severe, learning how to cope, is vital to your health. Particularly in this case, you and your babies health. Stress has a damaging effect on the human body. When you’re dealing with a pregnancy, stress can cascade itself even further.
In fact, in a review of literature in 2015, stated anxiety, depression and stress during pregnancy are risk factors for adverse outcomes for both baby and mother. In particular, shorter gestation and implications for fetal neurodevelopment.
Another study in 2019, looked at consequences of emotional stress during pregnancy, postpartum anxiety disorders, and infant postpartum cortisol reactivity on mother-child interaction at pre-school age.
Results indicated that maternal stress was significantly correlated with infant cortisol reactivity during the postpartum period. (Keep in mind this was a small sample sized experiment).
This merely is to emphasize the growing body of research that may indicate even mild stress during pregnancy, can have an impact on the development of your child.
Managing stress is the first step to accomplishing great pregnancy outcomes! We’ll talk more about how you can specifically manage work related stress, in the upcoming section.
How to Cope With Work-Related Stress During Pregnancy:
Organizational skills are just one of the keys to stress management. Ensuring your workspace is neat and tidy, is a simple, effective tip. Thus, allowing you to think more clearly and work more efficiently. In addition to a well organized space, organization is also key for your workload in general.
Demonstrating an understanding of priorities is sometimes easier said then done. However, will be an invaluable skill both short and long term. Prioritizing the most important and time sensitive tasks can be a way to relieve avoidable stress. Furthermore, understand yourself. Are your someone that can work straight though the day with little breaks needed? Alternately, break-up tasks into manageable chunks. This can allow you to periodically “take a deep breath”, regain your thoughts and continue to move forward.
On this same thought process, it may help to complete easier tasks first. A hurdle with work stress is sometimes, just getting started. If you can do tasks that are less demanding at the start, this may trigger your mind and body. In particular, to help get into a “groove” or “rhythm” helping to carry you through the day.
Use a Schedule to Manage Your Work:
Let’s not get to technical. Create an easy to follow scheduler. Breaking down work into manageable bits is important and can be a highly effective routine.
Personally, having a scheduler has become a necessity to keep on track. With so many tasks to be completed any given day, it’s something I couldn’t function without. This one tactic has reduced stress for me, significantly. As such, will certainly be helpful for an individual with hormones seemingly out of control, to help keep their mind clear. Additionally, it almost becomes addictive after a while. If you’re crafty, you may even try your hands at creating your own personalized one at that!
If you’re pregnant and feeling the effects of stress due to an overwhelming schedule, trying a planner is a must.
Ask For Help When You Need It:
Most people hate asking for help, right? Feeling as though you’re an inconvenience to other co-workers, may not be your style. However, this is a time when you certainly have an excuse, right! Don’t let your “pride” get in the way of reducing stress at this vital time in your life. Oftentimes, asking for help seems like a sign of weakness. On the contrary, asking for help is not only courageous at times, it also shows you care about your work. No one can do it all and certainly no one knows it all!
Additionally, you can try asking for help with small tasks about your day. Maybe this is completely unrelated to work, but something that will clear your mind to focus on your daily tasks.
Ask for help, you’ll need it along the way!
Here are a few examples:
- Hand-off small tasks to others so you can focus on larger more important ones. Delegate!
- Work on your communication skills
- Outside of work, have a family member or friend do a grocery run for you
- Have a family member help tidy up the house 1x/week
It’s important to optimize your time for the most crucial of tasks!
Another option is to seek help groups. With the advent of social media there are plenty of self-help groups. You are not the only one that is pregnant and feeling overwhelmed. Try a simple search on Facebook groups.
Eat Well and Get Plenty of Sleep:
Eating healthy has more of an impact on stress than you may realize. Regardless of whether you’re pregnant or not, you’ll want to keep up with your physical and mental health. Eating a balanced diet, and getting a full 7-8 hours of sleep will help keep your mind and body running on all cylinders.
For pregnant women, diet and sleep are especially important. If you want to feel your best at work, you need a good diet and be well rested. Sleepless nights and unhealthy foods will only increase stress.
Obviously, pregnancy comes with it’s own set of temptations. However, if possible, keep those temptations to a minimal. Your body needs a good balance at this time. The once in a while binge, craving, or late night snack most likely won’t hurt you long term. Try not to make it a habit.
You can’t control everything that happens at your job. However, you can control what you put into your body and a proper sleep schedule.
Hopkins Medicine provides some insights, like:
- what kind of foods to eat,
- how much of each category to eat daily,
- and recommendations to support a healthy diet during pregnancy.
Studies have also looked at correlations not just between a mothers diet during pregnancy, and the health of the newborn, but even diet quality up to the adolescents age.
A study in 2019, which looked at data from a large national birth cohort, found that there was indeed an association between maternal diet during pregnancy and diet quality of the offspring even at the age of 14. Pretty interesting, we’d say!
For some, the last thing you want when you’re pregnant and stressed is to further exhaust yourself. Thus, going to the gym, may seem like an daunting task. However, exercise can actually have the opposite effect on stress, making you feel better, especially over the short term.
This is not to say you should exhaust yourself with physically demanding and intense training. In fact, you should always consult with your physician to talk about physical exercise and what’s healthy for your specific pregnancy. However, for the most part being active during this time is healthy. In fact, Mayo Clinic discusses several advantages to exercise during this time, including:
- reduction of backaches and swelling
- reduction of constipation
- better sleep
- preventing excess weight gain
- increasing muscles tone and endurance
Similarly, and maybe most importantly, is the release of those “feel good” hormones. Bringing about some potential psychological well-being. Physical exercise may even add to your energy levels on a daily basis.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take A Step Back:
Finally, if you need a break, don’t be afraid to ask. After all you are only human. The expectations for you to handle intense amounts of stress is not feasible. Taking a brief step-back from work can be refreshing, helping to jumpstart energy and motivational levels.
Like beforementioned, taking frequent breaks to recoup may be a great intervention for stress. Do some in-office stretching or other types of relaxation practices. Go for a short walk, and get some fresh air. Alternatively, try some breathing exercises in your office or outdoors.
Schedule yourself a massage after work or invest in an aromatherapy diffuser for your office space to reap benefits of your favorite smelling essential oils (like lavender or peppermint), that may just take the edge off you need.
Final Tips: Safely Moving Forward With Your Pregnancy While Still Working
Get Regular Check-Ups at The Doctors:
In addition to managing your work life, make sure to manage your health. Pregnant women should make time to go to regular doctor visits and follow any guidelines in place.
Talk to Your Partner:
Being pregnant is difficult, there is no doubt about this. Working and making sure you limit your stress, and doing what’s in the best interest of you and the baby, is hard at times.
You might even find yourself feeling misunderstood or alone in your pregnancy. Your partner might not realize just how challenging this process is.
So, this is where you make sure to communicate with them. You can reduce stress significantly when you’re honest with your partner about your struggles and fears.
This can literally be one of the most beautiful, but also most stressful times of any women’s life. Make sure you plan ahead and have a plan in place for when things get challenging, something to ease your mind, and take some of the burden off yourself.
Thanks for stopping by, be sure to share some helpful tips of your own on our blog so we can all help each other!