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9 Keys for a Stress-free Pregnancy and Childbirth
By Linda Miles, Ph.D.

1. Don't let anxiety and stress take a toll. There is a growing body of research that shows anxiety and stress in some women, can lead to pre-term birth, smaller babies, and potential problems later for the baby.

2. Reduce the stress risk by using techniques from yoga and meditation. The March of Dimes suggests meditation and exercise designed for pregnant women as effective stress techniques. There are CDs specifically for pregnant women that help enormously. They can even be used during delivery and after the baby is born.

3. Reduce the risk during pregnancy. Women in the past often talked about the need to take it easy during pregnancy. During the 1980s and 1990s there was a tendency to downplay this need as women evolved in the work place. However, Dr. Calvin Hobel, professor of obstetrics at the University of California, Los Angeles, has found out that chronic stress in pregnancy can raise the likelihood of complications. Women who work very hard in high stress jobs may be predisposed to these problems.

4. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Some women are able to operate in high levels of stress without ill effects on their pregnancies. These are women who have positive attitudes and low anxiety levels about life challenges. Mother Theresa once said our greatest protection is a joyful heart.

5. Don't just survive - visualize. Visualization techniques include picturing yourself as calm and relaxed. One mom who used these techniques reported that when she did this, her baby would become very still. She laughed that the baby went from crawling around in her belly to becoming absolutely still. Using these techniques as the baby develops can help mom and baby practice relaxation strategies that are known to reduce anxiety and stress.

6. Become a mommy whisperer. I used these techniques extensively during my pregnancy and after my baby boy was born. Children are so responsive to relaxation techniques that my son would become still and quiet.

7. Steer your career. Moms need to remember they have 30 years left in a career, so consider taking some down time during pregnancy if you're prone to worry and tension.

8. Learn to self-soothe. Many women have never learned to speak to themselves in kind, loving tones. Learning to have a compassionate voice, even when silent, will soothe you along with your baby.

9. Make connections. Social support and nurturing by a partner is linked to higher birth weight and healthier infants. Use soft eyes with your partner and continue to make positive connections during pregnancy. It is important for mom and baby, and it generates healing chemicals. Bonding behaviors secrete oxytocin a chemical that leads to positive bonding in the family.

Copyright Linda Miles Ph.D

About the Author:
Linda Miles, Ph.D., is deeply committed to helping individuals and couples achieve rewarding relationships. She is an expert with a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology, and has worked in the mental health field for over thirty years. She has been interviewed extensively on radio, TV, and in newspapers and magazines. Find more relationship ideas and relaxation techniques on her web site and in the award-winning book she co-authored, The New Marriage: Transcending the Happily-Ever-After Myth, and numerous CDs, that Train Your Brain. Visit her website at http://www.drlindamiles.com.

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