This year has brought with it many challenges and adjustments. I can’t help but immediately think of all my pregnant clients and friends who have had to go through part, or even all of their pregnancy journey during this unfamiliar and uncertain environment that is COVID-19.

Pregnancy is an exciting and exhilarating time in a woman’s life, but at times the journey is downright nerve-wracking. Throw a lockdown period and a complete overhaul of how healthcare appointments work into the mix and you have a recipe for extra stress and anxiety.

One of my areas of passion in clinical practice is supporting women with their health and wellbeing throughout pregnancy. Stress, overwhelm, anxiety and low mood is something that I see in some pregnancy clients, and understandably so with a huge change in their lives unfolding right before their eyes. Not to mention hormonal changes, physical signs and symptoms that may be uncomfortable and physically draining, as well as the stress of continuing to work a job and perhaps look after other children and family members at the same time.

This year has put a few more stress-inducing factors into the mix for pregnant women – OB and midwife appointments conducted via Zoom rather than face-to-face, exciting ultrasound scans where partners can no longer attend due to COVID restrictions, a halt on all pregnancy exercise classes where women have an opportunity to get to know other mums-to-be and feel supported on their journey; not to mention perhaps being physically isolated and distanced from family member and friends during this special time in a pregnant woman’s life.

Thankfully here in NSW most normality has returned, and my thoughts go out to those in Victoria who are still in an intense stage of lockdown. Take good care of yourself and make eating well, sleeping, resting and exercise a priority to ensure you are supporting your physical and mental health during this time.

I love to share simple strategies with my clients that they can implement daily at home to support their nervous system and manage stress.

Simple Nervous System + Stress Support

  • Chose complex carbohydrates with your main meals instead of simple sugars – these support the production of serotonin in your gut, which boosts our mood and gives us energy – sweet potatoes, red potatoes, brown or basmati rice, quinoa, soba noodles, oats, nuts and seeds and whole wheat or spelt sourdough bread
  • Keep your protein intake up and make sure every meal and snack has a form of protein – chicken, fish, meat, organic tofu, lentils, black beans, organic dairy, free range eggs, nuts, nut butters and seeds are great options
  • Carve out time every day to do something that brings you joy or relaxation – it might be an episode of your favourite uplifting Netflix show, reading a book in the afternoon sun, playing with pets, a guided yoga stretch sequence, calling a friend for a chat, or baking something. Prioritise these activities and schedule them into your day, especially if working from home
  • Spend time in nature – research shows us just how beneficial the natural environment is for mood health and emotional wellbeing, so make time spent in nature a daily, or at the very minimum a weekly priority – spend an afternoon at the beach, find an (easy!!) bushwalk to do with a friend, visit a local garden or green space and do a walk or sit and read a book under the trees. ‘Green spaces’ provide powerful stress release responses and the more often you spend time in nature, the better the benefits on your mental health and wellbeing

Using diet and simple lifestyle adjustments can support your mood, encourage nervous system relaxation, improve sleep and increase levels of mood-supporting neurotransmitters like calming GABA, feel-good serotonin and motivating dopamine. Aim to do what you can, within your means to support yourself daily during your pregnancy with these tips. If you would like further guidance and support for your health during your pregnancy please reach out, as I would love to support you.

Claire Luckman