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Stress-proof your pregnancy

Follow our tips for a relaxing, hassle-free nine months

Pregnancy is a time when you should be feeling as relaxed, positive and optimistic as possible. But there are so many things to worry about! How will you cope with your new baby? Will you get by financially? Is your house/car/life big enough to share with a new person?

But you can rise above these worries and really enjoy the next nine months. Here we show you how to make the most of your pregnancy so that you can use this time to get to know your unborn baby – and yourself – a little better.

In the home
When you’re pregnant, keeping up your usual pace of life may seem like a daunting task – particularly when all you want to do is collapse on the sofa.
Here are our tips to help you take a bit of time out for yourself.

It is OK to eat ‘fast’ food
The world of ready meals has come a long way since the days of plastic lasagne and sludgy curries. Lots of supermarkets now do an excellent range of delicious, nutritionally balanced meals, and all you have to do is pop them in the microwave or oven – make sure the meal is cooked thoroughly and piping hot throughout. And if you choose your favourites now, you’ll know what to fill the freezer with for when your baby arrives! Delegate chores
You’ll probably get offers of help from family and friends – but if you don’t, you’ll have to ask for it. Whether it’s getting your partner to do more of the housework, your best friend to do your shopping for you, or your in-laws to look after any other kids for the weekend, take advantage of all your resources! Get organised
This may sound like you’re making more work for yourself but, if you’re anxious that you won’t be prepared for when your baby arrives, it can mean peace of mind if you get everything ready in advance. Sort out a room for your baby, stock up on babygros and nappies and make sure you have all the essential equipment – like a car seat and a pram. Getting sexy
If sex is the last thing on your mind, you may feel anxious or guilty because you can’t get in the mood. It’s important not to let this become a source of conflict between you and your partner – so tell him how you feel. If you don’t feel like having sex, then think of other ways to get intimate. Ask your partner for a relaxing massage, or get him involved in other pregnancy pampering rituals. Hit the books
You’ll feel more relaxed and positive about your pregnancy – and giving birth – if you are well informed. Consider what pain relief you want to use, who you want to be at the birth, and if there is anything you don’t want to take place. Also, read all the magazines and books you can get your hands on, so you understand all that can happen.

IN THE OFFICE

We can’t all be superwomen and sometimes combining pregnancy and work is tricky.
Here are some suggestions to make things easier for you.

Get flexible
Ask if you can change your working hours slightly, or even work one hour less every day. This will mean that you can avoid travelling during stressful peak times – you may even be able to get a seat on the train! Make time for lunch
If you normally just grab a sandwich at your desk, try to take a proper break in the middle of the day during your pregnancy. Find somewhere you can relax, away from the telephone and computer. Start eating well and choosing foods to promote well-being such as fruit and vegetables.
Mangosteen is popular amongst the celebrities and has been used traditionally to help promote healthy living. It is rich in antioxidants and contains naturally occurring minerals and vitamins. Available as a soft fruit or as a juice.
Don’t suffer in silence
If you’re struggling with your pregnancy at work, don’t stay quiet about it. Tell someone you’re close to that you’re having difficulties. It may be possible to find a way of making things easier for you – maybe you could work from home or could share projects with colleagues? Learn to say ‘no’
It can be hard, but this is not the time to impress everyone with long hours. It’s important to get your priorities right, and at the moment, your health and that of your baby are at the top of that list!

Taking Time Out
If you need a little extra something to help you relax, then why not try some complementary therapies?

Acupuncture
This involves tiny needles being inserted into points around your body to stimulate the flow of energy through channels called ‘meridians’. Acupuncture can soothe morning sickness, back pain and migraines, so it’s great if pregnancy aches and pains are making it hard for you to relax.

Reflexology
This treatment stems from the belief that each part of your foot is linked to a part of your body – so you can relieve discomfort by massaging that area
of the foot. You can have treatments
all throughout pregnancy to treat specific problems like headaches or morning sickness.

Aromatherapy
This therapy uses essential oils extracted from plants. It works through your sense of smell, and through the action of the oil on your skin. During pregnancy: some oils will help you sleep; others will ease feelings of nausea, or give you an energy boost. Add three or four drops to your bath, burn some oil in a diffuser, or ask your partner for an aromatherapy massage. Remember, not all oils are safe in pregnancy, so seek advice from a qualified practitioner before you use any – or try oils especially blended for pregnant women, such as Zita West’s range (www.zitawest.com)

Yoga
Yoga is a soothing, gentle way to stay
fit and healthy during pregnancy, and
a wonderful way to relax and focus on yourself and your baby. It also builds strength and flexibility for the birth.
Try to find an antenatal yoga class since not all yoga moves are recommended during pregnancy.

Reasons to relax
Keeping calm and happy not only makes you feel better, it’s better for your baby, too. Anxiety can raise your blood pressure – if it goes too high you may need to be monitored, or even go into hospital. Stress can also reduce the flow of blood to the placenta, which can be detrimental to your baby.

Mel Says…
‘Rest whenever you can. Don’t overdo it, you might feel like you’ve got lots of energy but just take it easy. Plan ahead and don’t leave everything to the last minute. Keep all your GP and midwife appointments – unlike me, who thought I was okay, but my blood pressure crept up without me knowing! Try and have a massage as it will really help you to unwind and take the stress out of your back and shoulders. Most importantly, just try and enjoy your pregnancy!’

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