Stressed Out? 12 Tips to Help You Deal With Stress During Pregnancy

7. Talk to yourself -- and write it down. The process of specifically identifying thoughts and feelings and putting them into written form is an excellent way both to come to grips with what you are experiencing and to help resolve any of these feelings that are troublesome. Doing so will give you better insight into yourself and will often relieve the pain of previously disturbing thoughts or feelings.

8. Break the cycle of negative feelings.
Test the origins of your emotions for validity. This process is called "cognitive restructuring." All of us get feedback and messages from those with whom we deal in the world. Often we make negative assumptions about ourselves based on this feedback, and thus feel badly about interactions we have had and about ourselves. This process of negative thinking occurs spontaneously and can often be overwhelming. But if you can begin to identify these repetitive negative thoughts and write them down to make sure you have a clear understanding of them, you can then begin the process of seeing what triggers them and determine whether your thought or the emotion it evokes is reasonable. Whenever you get one of these thoughts, look to see what caused it. Ask yourself if what happened -- a comment, a cool look, etc. -- deserves the negative response you have given it. By so doing, you can start to break the cycle of automatic negative feelings sparked by common events in your life.

9. Consider the possibility of obtaining professional help. The field of psychopharmacology has advanced so much over the last 15 years. Seeing a therapist no longer automatically involves years of once-a-week visits to talk about your feelings. Although "talk therapy" can be helpful, there are now many medications that are safe for pregnant women to take. These medicines have very few side effects, yet can transform how you feel. Depressed moods are often caused by changes in the biochemistry of the brain. There are medicines that can safely adjust the levels of brain chemicals. These medicines, just like the insulin a diabetic takes, can correct abnormal biochemistry and make you feel better and happier. If you and your health care provider decide that such medications would be useful for you, by all means try them. They will not cause a miscarriage or harm your baby.

Life is complex and often hard. Stress will not be going away anytime soon. There are, however, ways that you as a pregnant woman can go about evaluating the stress you are under and make changes in your life to better be able to deal with it. By so doing, you'll have a healthier pregnancy and be a happier person.

Copyright 2003 Henry Lerner
Henry Lerner, M.D., OB/GYN, is the author of Miscarriage: Why It Happens and How Best to Reduce Your Risks

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