Pregnant woman wearing white lying on bed

Now that you’ve confirmed you’re in your first trimester of pregnancy with your doctor, it’s important to place a lens on keeping stress levels down.

From first learning you’re pregnant to starting the first trimester, Dr. Dina Kulik helps us understand why it’s important to try to keep stress levels down during your first few months. She also offers sound advice on how to help manage stress levels during these first months of pregnancy.

Dr. Dina Kulik

She’s one of Canada’s leading child health media experts, providing child health information to parents and the public through television, radio and print media and via her blog, A mother of four boys and a pediatrician in Toronto, she is the founder and CEO of Kidcrew, a multidisciplinary clinic for kids health.

Dina Kulik

She’s one of Canada’s leading child health media experts, providing child health information to parents and the public through television, radio and print media and via her blog, A mother of four boys and a pediatrician in Toronto, she is the founder and CEO of Kidcrew, a multidisciplinary clinic for kids health.

According to BabyCenter, miscarriages early in pregnancy are very common. When I was pregnant for the first time, particularly in the first months of pregnancy, my top worries centred around the health of my baby. Was I eating right? Was I lifting too much? Everything seemed fraught with risk. As it turns out, when it came to what to do when pregnant, my fears were perfectly normal. Moreover, the answer to many of my questions, it seems, was everything in moderation.

“It is perfectly normal to have anxiety and stress during pregnancy,” says Dr. Kulik. “Moms can feel guilty about how to keep their baby the healthiest. There can be a lot of anxiety from day one.”

Still, while some anxiety is normal, too much stress can have a negative impact on your pregnancy and baby.

“When someone is stressed they release a hormone called cortisol; that’s our stress hormone,” she explains. “While some stress hormone is normal, too much cortisol can affect the baby.”

Are you stressed about stress? Take a few deep breaths. Dr. Kulik shares her thoughts on how you can manage your stress to help keep you and baby healthy.

Ways to manage stress in pregnancy

“Remember that the baby will be healthier and happier if mom is healthy and happy during pregnancy,” says Dr. Kulik. “This is true postpartum as well. Take the time to enjoy what you used to, whether that’s going for a walk, seeing friends or a special date night with your partner.”

If you’ve never tried journaling, doing so throughout your pregnancy can be an amazing time to start. As BabyCenter points out, keeping a diary can be very therapeutic and satisfying. Not only is a pregnancy diary a great way to work through your feelings, but it will serve as a great reminder of this special time in your life. All you need to get started is a simple notebook like this Style 3 Subject Notebook from Five Star.

Stay connected

Once I got past those early fears, I loved being pregnant and cherished the intimacy between my growing baby and me. Still, pregnancy is an important time to nourish and tend to the other relationships in your life as well. After all, the saying “it takes a village” is true, and you’re going to need all the help you can get once baby arrives.

“Having alone time with your partner is important,” informs Dr. Kulik. “Often, partners feel disconnected during and after pregnancy. For some partners, it can be a lonely experience because they aren’t experiencing pregnancy the same way, so reconnecting is really helpful.”

There’s no easier way to stay in touch with your loved ones than having a smartphone at your fingertips. From texting your partner when the baby kicks to sharing ultrasound photos with the grandparents, this Galaxy S9 64GB Titanium from Samsung will help keep you connected. It comes with 64 GB of internal storage for all those adorable baby pics you’ll be taking in the months and years to come.

Pregnant woman in blue using cellphone in bed

Get enough sleep

The irony with pregnancy is that just when you need sleep the most, you’re less likely to get it. I can still remember how hard it would be to find a comfortable position, as well as having to wake up in the night to go pee. A good bedtime routine can help you get the rest you need.

“Put the screen down and have a calming bedtime routine,” suggests Dr. Kulik. “It could be sipping herbal tea or running a bath, having a massage or using a hot pack.”

While Dr. Joanne Stone, co-author of Pregnancy for Dummies, 2nd Edition, points out in Chatelaine the risks of hot tubs, extremely hot baths and saunas during pregnancy, she does add that soaking in a warm bath is safe and may help relieve backache and pelvic pressure.

During my last pregnancy, I loved soaking in the tub with this Sweet Orange Vanilla Bubble Bath from The Honest Company. It’s free of harsh chemicals and synthetic fragrances. Looking for something 100% natural? Equate’s unscented Epsom salts is as natural as it gets. It can be used in baths to help reduce stiffness and soothe daily stress.

Keep exercising

“Getting some kind of daily exercise is always a good idea, even if it’s just a walk around the block,” informs Dr. Kulik. “It will be good for your body and your brain, and it will lead to better health for your baby.”

Chatelaine’s article on staying calm during pregnancy points out that increasing body weight, lax joints and a shifting centre of gravity can all make you more injury-prone than usual. Opt for workouts that are lighter or specifically designed for pregnant women.

Gear up with the right workout shoes, like these Women’s Galactic Athletic Shoes from Dr. Scholl’s. They are designed to help keep tired feet feeling more comfortable.

Woman in green shirt eating a salad

Eat right

My diet preferences differed from pregnancy to pregnancy. When I was pregnant with my first son, I remember walking down the grocery aisles craving peaches because the smell of fresh peaches was heightened. When I was pregnant with my daughter, my diet preferences changed … I craved chips and chocolate!

“Lots of women have cravings for all sorts of unhealthy, fattening or greasy and high carb foods,” says Dr. Kulik. “It’s important to remember everything in moderation. If you’re filling your body with nutrient-dense food and have things that bring you joy in moderation, then you’ll feel better and the baby will be healthier.”

Check out Today’s Parent for healthy food recipes and ideas for moms-to-be. Satisfying your hunger and nourishing your baby can be as simple as savouring a piece of toast with almond butter. Got a hankering? Try this Roasted Almond Butter from Maranatha.

Enjoy the moment

“Pregnancy goes by really quick, and it will be over soon. Focus on the positives, and savour the time you have now,” suggests Dr. Kulik.

It is recommended that you book an appointment with your health practitioner if you are concerned about depression. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, if you’re having trouble sleeping or eating well, and if you’re not enjoying the things you used to, you may be experiencing depression during pregnancy.

Also, be sure to check with your physician before starting any new vitamins, diet or activity in your first month of pregnancy and beyond. Visit BabyCenter for more ideas on managing stress and for your pregnancy week by week guide.

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