18 ways to enjoy a stress-free pregnancy

Constant stress may affect your baby ― learn if you’re under pressure, plus, find ways to manage it.


One minute, you’re celebrating impending motherhood, the next, you’re terrified at the prospect of giving birth.

While pregnancy is filled with excitement and life-changing events, it’s also a time when mums-to-be are unprepared for the challenges and stresses that come with being pregnant.

It’s natural to feel a little stressed when you’re expecting, but too much pressure can take a toll on your body and may give rise to developmental problems in your baby.

Cause for concern 

Some 70 per cent of expectant mothers experience varying degrees of anxiety and/or depression when they are pregnant. Moderate stress, like being stuck in traffic or dealing with difficult clients at work, won’t cause pregnancy complications. Even mood swings, morning sickness, constipation, fatigue and aches are considered a normal part of pregnancy.

But your stress levels to rise when severe morning sickness or an unexpected turn of event, like a death or an illness, interferes with your life. This could have long-lasting impact on your health, which may lead to prepartum anxiety and depression.

Your stress levels to rise when severe morning sickness or an unexpected turn of event, like a death or an illness, interferes with your life.

Other factors that can cause serious stress are:

1. Negative life events such as financial problems, job loss, divorce or being in an abusive relationship.

2. Fear of labour pain and delivery.

3. Feeling insecure or ill-equipped about caring for baby.

4. Juggling work and family responsibilities. It’s tougher when there is a lack of spousal support or if the employer is too demanding.

Symptoms of prepartum anxiety

Prepartum anxiety occurs during the pregnancy phase before the child is delivered, explains Dr Christopher Chong, obstetrician and gynaecologist at Gleneagles Hospital.       

This medical condition often goes unrecognised as symptoms, such as tiredness, poor appetite and poor sleep, are similar to those experienced in a normal pregnancy.

Other symptoms include:

i) Feeling an uncontrollable sense of anxiousness.
ii) Weepiness.
iii) Worrying excessively about your health or baby.
iv) An inability to focus.
v) Feeling irritable or agitated.
vi) Feelings of guilt.

Bouts of anxiety may lead to panic attacks. The symptoms include breathlessness, feeling like you’re going crazy, or that something awful may happen. “Severe hyperventilation over a continuous period can cause decreased oxygen to the foetus and affect its growth,” explains Dr Chong.

In severe cases, a depressed woman may be obsessed with thoughts of dying, notes Dr Chong.

Studies show that depression during pregnancy is even more common than postpartum depression, affecting one in eight women. A study of more than 9,000 women, published in The British Medical Journal, shows that the peak point for depression occurs in women who are in their 32nd week of pregnancy.

A mother suffering from this condition is likely to lose interest in her pregnancy, may avoid eating healthily, and even turn to alcohol and tobacco. Depressed mothers also find it more difficult to bond with their babys.  Studies show that mums who didn’t have an attachment to their baby in utero had children with emotional problems.