Expecting a baby is the most wonderful experience, but it can also be a time of worry. Studies have found, however, that stress in pregnancy is not beneficial to your baby and should be avoided where possible. Read on for our top tips to reducing stress in pregnancy.

Stress in pregnancy

Long-term stress is a major trigger for depression and anxiety, plus it can contribute to weight gain and insomnia. Ultimately you'll be happier if you can remain less stressed throughout your pregnancy. Of course, pregnancy can be a worrying time for many expectant mothers, especially if this is your first child and you have genuine worries, such as money. Small amounts of stress are fine - it's how our bodies cope with challenges - but large amounts can create too much cortisol hormone. Long-term exposure to cortisol can be detrimental to both yourself and your baby. There are however a number of things you can do to reduce your stress levels as much as possible.

Pregnancy yoga

Pregnancy yoga is a type of yoga that has been specially structured for pregnant women, from the beginning right up to the very end of the pregnancy. Yoga helps open airways, circulate blood and aids relaxation through meditation. It's never too late to start with pregnancy yoga, even if you're in your third trimester.

Pregnancy massage

Pregnancy massages don't come cheap, so if you only have one, have it towards the end of your pregnancy when you're feeling the most stressed and anxious. A pregnancy massage takes place on a specially adapted table by a professional who knows how to work around the bump. They will also know where you are most likely to be experiencing muscle discomfort.

Swimming

Swimming is thought to be hugely beneficial in pregnancy, both to the mother and the baby. Swimming is thought to reduce stress generally, but because the water also takes much of the weight for you, it can be physically relaxing too.

Comfort

Being uncomfortable, whether it's simply because of the big bump or the myriad of additional problems associated with pregnancy such as heartburn, is a major cause of stress in pregnancy. Do whatever you can to get more comfortable. Invest in a really good maternity pillow to help you sleep (as this takes some of the weight of the baby). Buy quality maternity clothes that are designed to go around the bump, such as maternity tights. Maternity tights are available in a range of deniers, making them ideal for year-round apparel. Pregnant women often find dresses and tights are more comfortable than trousers. The sheer range of colours that are available in maternity hosiery makes dressing for work easier than ever, throughout pregnancy.

Pregnancy is a beautiful time, but it can also be a period of uncertainty and worry. Try to stay as stress-free as possible by swimming, doing yoga and staying as comfortable as possible, especially in the last trimester.