There are plenty of myths about stress during pregnancy that we hear on a daily basis. Some of them we have heard so often that we believe they must be based on fact.
Stress happens to everyone so it's no big deal.
A high-risk pregnancy is stressful so you just have to deal with it.
If you have no symptoms, you're not stressed.
Myths such as these invalidate moms, leaving them feeling inadequate and helpless in the face of stress.
But there's one more myth about stress that not only quashes the importance of stress management, but one that leaves moms feeling completely out of control in the face of stress.
This myth also reinforces the false belief that once the high-risk pregnancy is over, the stress will melt away.
Have you been taken by this stress myth, too?
"The best way to stress less during your pregnancy is to just breathe and relax."
Moms who have heard this advice know that it's unhelpful because if it were that easy to stay calm during a high-risk pregnancy, no mom with a complicated pregnancy would be stressed!
But most importantly, this myth hits upon a fundamental misunderstanding about stress.
Stress isn't something that happens to you that you have to endure while you're fighting for your baby.
Stress isn't a feeling or experience that's a result of your high-risk pregnancy.
Stress is a result of how you think about what's happening during your pregnancy. (Tweet that!)
By trying to lower your stress with deep breaths or relaxing music, you're only addressing the effects of stress, not the cause.
Now that's not to say that you should never breathe deeply or relax. Sometimes you need quick relief so your blood pressure doesn't skyrocket right before a doctor's visit or so you can think clearly to make an important decision.
But if that's your only stress management strategy, you're only getting temporary relief.
This explains why you may feel like you're doing everything to lower your stress but it still keeps coming back over and over.
This is particularly worrisome during a high-risk pregnancy because of the role stress plays in adding to the complications you're already facing.
Managing stress during a scary time
It would be another false assumption to say that your high-risk pregnancy is stressful only because you're thinking about it in a way that's causing you stress.
Of course that's not true.
A high-risk pregnancy has a very real added layer of fear about your life and your baby's life.
And unfortunately no amount of changes to your thinking will take away your complications.
However, how you think about your complications can mitigate the day-to-day stress that makes the already stressful situation even more difficult to cope with.
Thoughts such as....
"This is my fault."
"I'm failing my baby."
"Everything is falling apart." "There's nothing I can do to make this better."
"I can't do this anymore."
"I feel useless."
....all lead to stress that you feel on top of the worry that you have for your baby's safety.
This is also why it's important to develop strong stress management techniques during your high-risk pregnancy.
Once the baby comes home, the stress won't automatically end.
The thoughts you've become familiar with during the ups and downs of your pregnancy will stay with you even after your baby is born until you do something to change them.
For true stress relief, you must think about your situation differently so that you cut the stress off at it's source.
Like any new habit, changing how you think takes time...and work! It doesn't happen automatically. (Tweet that!)
You first must identify the thoughts that are causing you stress. Sometimes they're easy to pinpoint. Other times it's tougher because the thoughts are so automatic we accept them as being true.
Once you've identified the thoughts, then challenge them. Find evidence to prove that thought wrong. Think back to times in your own life when you've acted differently than what you believe to be true today.
And definitely cut out the exaggerated self-talk! Replace words like "always", "never" and "everythign" with more realistic descriptions of the situation at hand.
Insight beats stress.
The more you know about what thoughts escalate your stress levels, the more you're able to change your pattern of thinking and feel calmer.
But it all starts with getting quiet and being honest with yourself about what's been running through your mind.
Tried all of this on your own already and still not feeling as calm as you'd hoped. I've got you covered!
What thoughts do you have during your high-risk pregnancy that raise your stress levels? How does stress show up for you when you think these thoughts?
Leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you!