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Keeping Stress At Bay

Too much stress during pregnancy can result in pre-term birth or low birth weight, both of which moms-to-be want to avoid. Judith Nolte, Editor-in-Chief of American Baby Magazine, has some tips for keeping stress at bay.

With the economy in a slump, many mothers-to-be are feeling the stress of planning for a baby on a tight budget. Normal, everyday stress is okay, but if you're having trouble sleeping or are constantly worrying, you'll need to take steps to relax a little more. Nolte mentions that crisis situations, such as a death in the family, severe financial instability or divorce, can potentially harm your baby. High stress situations can lead to premature birth or low birth weight. It's important to keep stress in check, both for you and for your baby.

If you or someone you know are in a severe financial crisis, have lost your job or are struggling to pay your bills, there are organizations that help pregnant women in need. Women, Infants and Children is a group that provides federal grants to states so they can provide food, healthcare and other important prenatal skills to moms-to-be who are struggling financially. To find out if you qualify for help, click here to visit the Women, Infants and Children website - http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/.

In addition to financial help, there are ways to reduce stress. Be sure to talk to your doctor about what's right for you, but Nolte offers some ideas to start with.

First, she suggests creating a support system for yourself. "You need friends, family, people online... to talk to other people who'll be there for you, primarily who have been through it before and can help you and give you tips," says Nolte. AmericanBaby.com offers several chat rooms on a wide range of topics for new moms to discuss what they're feeling and how they're coping with the demands of motherhood. "You'll always find somebody who's going through the same thing at the same time," says Nolte.

Also, try exercising throughout your pregnancy. Just as a good workout could relieve stress before you got pregnant, hitting the gym or yoga studio during pregnancy can help keep things in perspective during pregnancy, too. "[Yoga] is good for your breathing, it's good for your muscles," says Nolte. "The more you exercise, the better it's going to be to get through delivery." Be sure to consult your doctor to find a fitness routine that will work for you. Certain exercises shouldn't be performed during pregnancy, so check with your doctor before hitting the gym.

Massage is another great stress reliever. "If you find a masseuse who does pregnancy massage in particular, it's a good idea," Nolte adds. "Ask your doctor if it's okay."

Even on your busiest days, though, be sure to take a short break to clear your head. Slow down! "Do something simple," says Nolte. "Take a walk, read a book, listen to your iPod." Find an activity that helps your mind focus on something other than the stress in your life. Even a ten minute break can do wonders. This is great practice for once your baby is born, too.

For more stress relieving tips, as well as additional parenting advice, click here to visit www.AmericanBaby.com.

By Erin Petrun

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