How I Face Stress During Pregnancy The Second Time Around

Pregnancy brings a host of symptoms that sometimes seem unmanagable, stress being one. I learned to manage stress by facing it head-on.

How I Face Stress During Pregnancy The Second Time Around

So far, I think my second child is settling in to much calmer living quarters than my daughter Caroline ever experienced in utero. Less fatigue and fewer bouts of morning sickness have, thus far, almost made me feel guilty.

Like I said… almost.

With Caroline, I was plagued with what I like to call "pregnant hypochondria." I'm sure each time I called my OB's office, my chats were met with unseen nurses rolling their eyes and whispering, "It's her again." It wouldn't surprise me if I have a bright red warning sticker permanently attached to my chart. Since my daughter had made my bladder her favorite relaxation spot, my husband and I made several pre-mature trips to the hospital.

But the same story repeated itself like a drippy faucet. "Are you sure it's not amniotic fluid?," I'd ask. Incontinence is a truly sad excuse to require such an entourage of hospital staff. I also rented a fetal Doppler monitor that quickly replaced my husband as my number one snuggle partner. Hubby reluctantly got demoted to foot masseuse, a job that, in this case, was far less than erotic.

But to sweeten the deal, it was, after all, my first pregnancy. My first child. The first grandchild on both sides of the family. My first experiment with my body's limits. My first real glimpse of a tiny part of me.

And a reason for attention. It sounds so primadona, huh? At first I thought something was wrong with me. Wasn't motherhood supposed to be the gateway to selflessness? But now I'm far past denial. Becoming a mother, I have decided, is all about self-indulgence.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about the kind of self-indulgence that requires one to shut herself off from the world in search of self-discovery or, better yet, self-gratification or self-identification. It's rather the type of self-indulgence that gives way to a much more serene pregnancy. And yes, in this case, temporary insanity can give way to peace of mind.

Sometimes attacking stress and fears aggressively is the best way to alleviate them. The March of Dimes' Web site says that a pregnant woman's stress "does not have to be all bad. When managed properly, stress can provide us with the drive to meet new challenges. A pregnant woman (or anyone else) who feels she is coping well with stress-taking good care of herself, feeling energized, rather than drained, and functioning well at home and work -probably does not face health risks from stress."

So go ahead, rent that fetal Doppler monitor, program your doctor's phone number as number one on your speed dial, and by all means, teach your spouse the fine art of foot massage. You never know, hearing your baby's heartbeat on demand or submitting to a retreat for your feet may just prime you to be the kind of mom your baby deserves-stress-free and happy.

A Few Practical Tips on Pampering Your Pregnant Self:

1. Get a fun and easy-to-maintain haircut.

2. Eat nutritious foods that nourish yourself and your baby.

3. Get a pregnancy massage from a qualified masseuse.

4. Don't over-schedule your day. Take time for yourself.

5. Take naps when you can.

6. Take a pre-natal Yoga class, for the health benefits and to spend a little time with other moms-to-be.

7. Laugh a little. (I recommend Nancy White's CD, "Momnipotent: Songs for Weary Parents.")

8. Don't judge yourself. Hormones can rear their ugly heads during pregnancy. No, you're not a monster.

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