Managing stress during pregnancy 

Finding out you're expecting a baby is an exciting time for many women, but as the month's roll by and your delivery date edges ever closer, it's normal to feel a little stressed out because it is a big transition that requires taking on a new life role.

When stress levels are high, we may notice effects on our body, emotions and behaviour and we can be left feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.

In your body you may notice:

  • increased heart rate, blood pressure
  • increased muscle tension
  • shallow or fast breathing
  • constipation or diarrhoea
  • headaches or other body pain.

In your emotions you may notice:

  • feeling irritable or angry
  • worrying a lot or feeling panicky
  • feeling teary, down or depressed
  • feeling overwhelmed.

In your behaviour you may notice:

  • sleep difficulties
  • feeling low in energy
  • withdrawing from social activities
  • over eating/under eating
  • smoking or drinking excessively
  • tension in relationships.

How best to managing stress

There are a number of different ways to manage and reduce stress, so we can get on with making the most of life. Here are a few ideas:

  • Set aside time each day for activities that you find satisfying, pleasurable and relaxing
  • Maintain a healthy sleep routine, winding down 30 minutes before bed and making it a priority to go to bed at the same time, and wake at the same time each day
  • Use relaxation methods to help you reduce the impact of stress on your body and mind—listen to music, try meditation, breathing exercises or relaxation exercises
  • Express your unhelpful thoughts (the ones that trigger you feeling stressed) through writing, drawing or talking with others—this may help to gain perspective on what is troubling you
  • Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle, learn about wholesome foods that will nourish you and your growing baby—plan some exercise according to your abilities, interests and comfort levels (e.g. swimming, yoga, light walking)
  • Identify what is the cause of your stress and, if you can, problem solve how best to improve the situation
  • Say 'no' to unnecessary commitments, and 'yes' to offers of help
  • Seek support—speak to someone if you are feeling stressed
  • Look at information on

Please speak to your obstetrician or local GP about making an appointment with an occupational therapist—they may be able to recommend someone for you. 

If you're in South East Queensland, you can make an appointment to see a Mater occupational therapist by calling 07 3163 6000.

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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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