Relaxation is Health!
There are many ways to relax and still achieve all the items on your to-do list. You’ll feel more successful and less stressed if you regularly spend some time on self-care. The key is finding what works best for you and creating time in your schedule for relaxing activities.
Aromatherapy: Breathe It In!
There are a variety of essential oils to consider, and you can find excellent choices in nearly all major retail stores as well as drugstores. Lavender is a well-liked scent linked to relaxation, but there are others if you’re not a fan.
Try a few scents—select a handful that help you feel calm and others that seem to boost your mood or energy! Gain the benefits of essential oils by using them in diffusers, scented candles, incense, or bath salts. Don’t be surprised if during pregnancy you’re more sensitive to certain smells—find a few scents you like and start with those.
Prenatal Massage: What a Treat!
Prenatal massage also helps boost your blood circulation, which provides more oxygen and nutrients for both you, mom, and your baby. It also stimulates your immune system, for extra protection. Massage can even help regulate the changing hormones that can cause some women to feel depressed or anxious. Massage helps release endorphins, which can soothe and relax your nervous system. As a result, you may feel more relaxed and sleep more deeply. Ask for this as a gift from your partner, friends, or family, or just treat yourself.
Warm Showers & Baths: Wash Away Worries!
Fast Relaxation: Something for Every Day
Use an exercise ball to relieve stress on your body. Sitting on a birthing ball is also great exercise and a way to prepare your body for labor. It can strengthen muscles, improve your posture, and prepare your body for birth. Sitting in an upright position can also help change your baby’s position if they’re putting pressure on your back, which may also relieve back pain. Use the ball throughout pregnancy, during labor, and in recovery after baby’s birth—it’s a worthwhile investment.
Walking in nature is best described as active meditation. Walks in nature have been shown to boost your mood, strengthen your immune system, reduces stress and anxiety, and inspire creative thinking. The fresh air and sunshine are a good distractor while you get a vitamin D boost. This mild exercise is also beneficial for maintaining overall health during pregnancy. Be sure to wear supportive shoes and chose safe paths that reduce your risk of falls.
Mellow Music: Listen Up!
Breathe: Just Breathe
Lastly, give yourself permission to do anything that helps you relax that’s also safe for your baby. You know your body best, mama. Any activity that makes you feel relaxed, and is healthy for you, will benefit you during pregnancy, and likely benefit you throughout labor and into parenting as well.
It’s important to be intentional and practice self-care during pregnancy and beyond to stay balanced and focused as a parent. You’ve got this mama; just breathe.
Heather Watson, PhD, MSN, RN
Heather Watson, PhD, MSN, RN, is a nurse scientist with the Johns Hopkins Health System.
The information contained on this article should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your health care professional.