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, as people seemingly work longer hours for less money. However, if you're pregnant, your level of stress can increase even more dramatically. You want to take steps to help manage your stress and your work life.
In this guide, we've come up with some useful ways to help you cope and deal with work related stress during pregnancy. Managing stress can seem daunting, but this is an important part of having a healthy and happier pregnancy.
The Dangers of Stress During Pregnancy
It’s natural to get stressed out at work, and stress is to be expected during any pregnancy. However, you don’t want your work stress to get out of hand, especially when you're having a baby. Stress has a damaging effect on the human body, and when you are dealing with pregnancy, stress can amplify even more and even affect your health, and your baby’s health.
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, especially shorter gestation and implications for fetal neurodevelopment.
Another such study in 2019, looked at consequences of emotional stress during pregnancy as well as 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 size for experiment)
This is merely to show that their is a growing body of studies and research that may indicate that even mild stress during pregnancy can have an impact on the development of the unborn 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 next section.
How to Cope With Work-Related Stress During Pregnancy:
1. Stay Organized
Organizational skills are on of the keys to stress management. You want to ensure that your workspace is neat and tidy. This way you can think clearly and do your work efficiently. In addition, though, you also want to organize your workload.
Figure out which work is most necessary, and prioritize those tasks first. Don’t just do all your work at once, break up everything into manageable chunks. This way you don’t have to stress out as much about completing work last minute.
Also, try to do work tasks that are easier to manage first. One of the biggest hurdles with work stress is getting started. If you can do tasks that are less demanding first, you just may get in the rhythm of working without stressing out as much. Sometimes, you just need a little push to start your day off right!
2. Use a Schedule to Manage Your Work
To further organize your work, you also need to create a schedule. Breaking down work into manageable bits is important, but you also have to know when each part of your work should be completed.
A schedule can seem stifling at first, but this type of time management will reduce stress significantly! You won’t have to wonder when you have time to work. Instead, you will know exactly when things need to get done. This makes it much easier to complete work and stay stress-free.
There is even planning involved in creating a schedule. However, using a schedule is a great way to manage work stress while you are pregnant, and once you get into a routine, this will become addictive and maybe even have some fun with it, as you will find the schedule is with you merely 24/7!
3. Ask For Help When You Need It
It can be hard to ask for help, especially when you're pregnant, as you may seem as if you have become an inconvenience to other co-workers or your boss. More importantly, though, you don’t want to seem like you are unable to perform at your job.
These are all valid concerns, but you want to remember that you can indeed ask for help. It is not a weakness to rely on others at your job, and you don’t have to hand over all your work to other people, just try and get help with small things that will free you for larger projects or goals and minimize stress.
Maybe have someone hand a file over to your boss, or take on extra work that isn’t your main focus. Remember, you want to do work that is necessary. This way you can optimize your efforts and reduce stress levels.
Asking for help at work is not the only place to get help. If your budget affords for it, have someone trustworthy come and help with daily chores around the house.
Another option is to seek help groups. With the advent of social media there are plenty of self-help groups or other social interactions that are out there to help in times like these. Trust us, you are not the only one that is pregnant and feeling overwhelmed. Try searching for Facebook groups, to start!
4. Eat Well and Get Plenty of Sleep
Your health has more of an impact on stress than you realize. So, regardless of whether you're pregnant or not, you 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 you need to be well rested. Sleepless nights and unhealthy foods will only increase stress.
Of course, it’s tempting to eat whatever you want and lose sleep over your work and your pregnancy. However, you want to keep your body in balance as much as possible. The once in a while binge, craving or late night, most likely won't hurt you long term, but just don't make it a habit.
You can’t control everything that happens at your job, but you can control what you put into your body and your sleep schedule.
Hopkins Medicine provides some tremendous insight of what kind of foods to eat, how much of each category to eat daily, as well as other recommendations to support a healthy diet during pregnancy.
Other studies out there 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.
5. Get Some Physical Activity In
The last thing you want to do when you're pregnant and stressed is to go to the gym or exercise. Still, getting in a little movement can be great for your stress levels. Dealing with work stress during pregnancy is not easy, but when you take active steps to reduce stress, you can improve your work-life balance.
We discussed diet and sleep, but you also want to get some physical activity in, as well. You don’t need to burn yourself at the gym with intense workouts. In fact, you should consult with your doctor about what physical activity is appropriate for you, depending on your health and stage of pregnancy.
Overall though, an exercise in any form is great for your body. It reduces the physical effects of stress and helps you stay more energized and present in your work life and life in general!
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Take A Step Back
Finally, if you need a break from work, don’t be afraid to ask. You are only human after all, you can’t be expected to handle work stress 24/7 especially when you are dealing with a pregnancy. If you can get time off, talk to your boss. Taking a step back from work can help refresh your energy and motivational levels.
In addition, take breaks while you're on the job. Do some in-office stretching or other types of relaxation practices. Go for a short walk, and get some fresh air. Try out some breathing exercises that you can literally do from your seat!
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
1. 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 by your doctor.
2. 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 for you.
So, this is where you make sure to communicate with them during this time. 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 of 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 during these times!