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Reduce Pregnancy Stress



It is true that pregnancy is a magical time, but for some of us we can get overwhelmed and feel stressed. Your body and mind go on a crazy adventure when you have a little person growing inside of you. From the additional hormones, body changes, mental fears about motherhood, and the regular daily grind of life, it is no wonder that some women’s stress levels sky rocket. It is important to manage these stress levels because it isn’t good for you or your developing baby.


Reducing your stress during your pregnancy should be one of your top priorities. The trick here is to identify your causes of stress and see what you can do to reduce/manage it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If your job is stressing you out, talk to your boss to see what can be done about it. If some aspects of your pregnancy (like morning sickness) are making it more challenging to do your job, reach out for help. There’s a always a solution. The worst thing you can do is to suffer in silence. That’s when your stress levels really take off.


If things at home are stressing you out, pull your partner aside to discuss it. The key to successful stress reduction is enlisting help from those that care about you. When you are pregnant, people want to help you. They love doing things for you. It is the one time in your life when people will be most helpful. Take advantage of it.


With my first pregnancy, I wasn’t stressed at all. I had taken time off work to really concentrate on being pregnant and I was completely zen the whole time. I did have terrible morning sickness but because my whole focus was my growing baby inside of me, my stress due to this were not that bad. My second pregnancy was a completely different story. I worked for 8 out of the 10 months of my pregnancy and my stress levels were off the charts at certain times. I would talk to my husband David about it, which helped, but made the mistake of not talking to my partners about how much pressure I was under. Needless to say I was quite unhappy for certain portions of my pregnancy. Looking back I know that my colleagues would have been understanding of my predicament and would have tried to come up with scenarios to help me out. I just didn’t want to bother them with what I was feeling. In retrospect I definitely would have confided in them and tried to come up with solutions that would work for everyone.


So, learn from my experience and talk to your work colleagues if you are feeling stressed out. As I mentioned earlier, most people are so willing to help pregnant women reduce their stress.

Creating a weekly pregnancy menu


Pregnancy is a time  of joy coupled with excitement.  It is a mother's job to do everything possible just so her baby is off to a healthy start in life. In planning for your weekly pregnancy menu, know what is good for you and your baby.


When it comes to the planning of nutritional needs for pregnant mothers, the authority is the Food Nutrition and Research Institute (FNRI) under the Department of Science and Technology in the Philippines. FNRI provides guidelines through their “Daily Nutritional Guide Pyramid for Filipino Pregnant Women” together with its equivalents of one serving portion of common foods:  fats and oils; sugar and sweets; fish, shellfish, meat &  poultry, dried beans & nutsMilk and milk products; vegetables; fruits and rice, rice products, corn , root crops, bread and noodles.


View the full page of the Daily National Guide Pyramid for Filipino Pregnant Women . Image via Food Nutrition and Research Institute , DOST . Some rights reserved.


Taking extra care during the first three months of my pregnancy was important because this is the most crucial phase in a baby’s development when all the organs are forming. A good diet and proper nutrition are a must because baby’s nutritional status depends on these.  The Daily Nutritional Guide Food Pyramid for Pregnant Women as shown in the diagram above is your weekly guide in preparing your menu. Choose a diverse range of foods from the food groups daily to include grain products, vegetables and fruits, milk products, and meat.  Pregnant women need additional “300 kilo calories per day from the fourth month to the ninth month of pregnancy according to the Recommended Energy and Nutrient Intakes (RENI), 2002.”


Now how do you plan your weekly menu?  The FNRI provides a One Week Sample Menu which you can download here.   The sample menu of easy to cook Filipino dishes provides the equivalents of one serving portion of common foods. Be innovative and prepare dishes that follow the same proportion found at the  Daily Nutritional Guide Pyramid for Filipino Pregnant Women.


Download the One Week Sample Menu. Image via Food Nutrition and Research Institute, DOST.  Some rights reserved.


Pregnant women should eat the following servings as recommended by the FNRI:

1. Two servings of fruits a day, one of which is vitamin C-rich fruit. Consider fruit for your snacks. One serving of fruit is equal to one medium-sized fruit or one slice of a big fruit.

2. Five to six servings a day of rice, rice products, corn, root crops, bread, noodles. Choose whole grains for extra fiber. One serving is equal to one cup of rice, or four slices of loaf bread, or two slices puto, or five pieces small pandesal, or one cup corn, or two cups noodles, and one cup cooked rootcrops.

3. Three to four servings a day of green leafy vegetables and other vegetables. One serving of vegetable is equal to 1/2 cup cooked.

4. Four to five servings a day of fish, shellfish, meat & poultry, dried beans & nuts, and eggs. Limit intake of your fatty meats, cholesterol-rich food, and saturated fats. One serving is equal to one piece medium size fish, or 1/3 cup shellfish, shelled, or 3 cm cube (one matchbox size) cooked pork/beef/chicken, or 1/3 cup cooked dried beans/nuts, or one slice cheese, or one piece chicken egg, or one piece tokwa.

5. One serving of milk and milk products a day such as one glass of milk. Choose non-fat and low-fat milk.

6. Six servings a day of sugar/sweets. Consume sweets in moderation. One serving of sugar is equal to one teaspoon honey, or one piece hard candy.

7. Seven servings a day of fats and oils. One serving of fat is equal to one teaspoon mayonnaise, or one teaspoon margarine/butter, or one teaspoon peanut butter.


The sample weekly menu is quite handy and easy to follow. You can also check this nutritionally adequate one day menu.


 Download nutritionally adequate one day menu. Image via FNRI . Some rights reserved.


Start on the right track.  Pave the way for a healthy pregnancy, a healthy baby, and a healthy future.


Pregnant at 40


No I'm not pregnant! I thought I was eight years ago. Imagine, if I had blogged "I'm 49 and I'm pregnant", would I cry or laugh if that happened? When I was 43 years old, I thought I wanted to have a fourth child. My obstetrician-gynecologist did a thorough physical checkup and declared that my eggs were that of a 39 year old woman. The hitch was my diabetes, which made me decide not to pursue another child.


The greatest advantage of being pregnant in our 40s is that one is emotionally and financially ready for them. Most of the disadvantages are more of health issues rather than lifestyle.


Any 40-plus women do get pregnant, some using fertility treatments and some not. My 42 year old cousin recently gave birth to her first child, after years of trying to get pregnant. She was so blessed because she got pregnant without any medical intervention. She stopped going to work and just stayed at home so she could have more rest. My cousin was aware that since she was older, she was more prone to hypertension and gestational diabetes but she exclaimed " thank heavens I did not have that probably because I still ate healthy and would just occasionally indulge."


Her worries were more about her baby if he would be healthy. She added "there is always the risk of having a baby with Down's syndrome at this age, although we had a congenital scan that ruled out possible genetic problems." Pregnant women over 40 are up to three times more likely to need a Cesarian section like my cousin.


If you plan to get pregnant at 40 years old and beyond, being well-informed is your first step.


1. Look for an obstetrician-gynecologist who is also known to handle infertility problems.

Be prepared for tests to check your fallopian tubes or your partner's sperm.


2. Have a thorough medical check up before you start trying to conceive.

Women over 40 are twice as likely as a younger woman to experience gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure, placenta praevia and placental abruption. Make sure any existing medical condition is in a stable, controlled state before considering pregnancy.


3. Time to make adjustments to your lifestyle

Be fit and keep a healthy weight. Cutting back on alcohol is best. If you smoke, now's the time to stop.


4. Take "prenatal vitamins with folic acid before you get pregnant to help prevent neural tube defects, particularly spina bifida".


5. Be informed about the "increased risk of genetic disorders (chromosomal abnormalities) and tests you may consider having during pregnancy to detect them. "


"Most women in their early and mid-40s do fine being pregnant," says Jeffrey M. Goldberg, M.D., professor and head of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the Cleveland Clinic Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. "The problem is getting pregnant—and staying pregnant—with a healthy baby." Just visit your doctor if you have plans on being pregnant at 40.