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Wellbeing in pregnancy: coping and stress management

Causes of stress in hospital

There is a range of factors that can cause mothers-to-be stress while in hospital, including:

  • just being in hospital (uncertainty, tired of waiting, lack of control, concerns about your baby’s wellbeing)
  • hospital situation (feeling like a prisoner, being bored, having a sense of missing out)
  • family (role reversal with partners, worry about older children).

Signs of stress/tension

Stress can affect our body, our emotions and our behaviour.

Some of the effects on our body include:

  • increased heart rate
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased muscle tension
  • shallow or fast breathing
  • constipation or diarrhoea
  • indigestion
  • headaches or other body pain
  • sleep difficulties.

Some of the effects on our emotions include:

  • being irritable
  • feeling anxious/agitated
  • feeling depressed
  • poor concentration
  • feeling tearful/insecure
  • feeling overwhelmed.

Some of the effects on our behaviour include:

  • blaming
  • withdraw
  • over eating/under eating
  • smoking or drinking excessively.

Hot tip: Seek to change the things that cause the stress responses in your body.

Practical steps to reduce stress

You can take actions to help reduce your stress while in hospital. Following are some practical steps to help you reduce and manage your stress:

  • change your perception of the situation that is causing distress. Look at the situation from a different perspective, change negative thoughts into positive ones, use a sense of humour
  • practice assertive communication with your doctors/hospital staff and family. Listen carefully to medical information and ask if you don’t understand clearly
  • find balance through hobbies or interests. This will help to boost your self esteem, and provide you with a positive focus
  • diet, exercise and relaxation. Find out about wholesome foods, appropriate exercise and talk with your occupational therapist about relaxation or meditation techniques that may suit your individual needs
  • organise your day so you don’t feel bored. Get up, have a shower and get dressed. Plan your day and activities to increase your feeling of being in control and ask staff about talks and activities available on the ward
  • express yourself through writing, drawing and talking with others.

Antenatal support group

Are you feeling stuck in hospital? Bored? Worried about how your family will cope at home? Are you feeling anxious, sad or out of control? Are you uncertain about your (and your baby’s) health?

You are invited to take some time out to learn new strategies that may help you cope with this bump in the road of your pregnancy.

When: weekly get-together (see your occupational therapist for the time or phone 07 3163 8787 or 07 3163 8426)

Where: Interview Room, level 9, Mater Mothers’ Hospitals

Come along and meet other expectant mums at this weekly get-together for understanding, support and practical problem-solving. Learn ways to cope with the realities of an unexpected hospital stay.

Where can I get more information?

Ask your occupational therapist at Mater Mothers’ Hospitals or ask your nurse to contact them on pager 0766 or pager 1234.

Some useful websites

General information:

www.babycenter.com.au—(search for ‘coping with stress’)


Relaxation resources:

The Relaxation Centre of Queensland
15 South Pine Rd, Alderley Brisbane

Phone 07 3856 3733



www.meditationoasis.com (go to meditation oasis podcasts)

www.thepregnancycentre.com (go to relaxation)

© 2010 Mater Misericordiae Ltd. ACN 096 708 922.

Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-430072
Last modified 09/8/2017.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 28/2/2014
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