Helping New Mothers Bust the Stress of Pregnancy: A Nursing Initiative
On our first day of clinical rotations, we visited a community, and our teacher asked us to select a family. My friend and I knocked on the door of a house, and soon a female member of the family opened it. While we got seated after introductions, I noticed that she appeared worried. She was quiet and it seemed that she was not feeling well.
Firstly, we started taking her history and she told us that she got married 3 months ago and was now pregnant. On hearing this, we smiled and congratulated her but her reply was neither satisfactory nor happy. According to her, she had not mentally prepared to conceive and was not ready to have a baby at the moment. She told us that due to her husband’s wish, she didn’t use any contraceptives.
When we asked why she didn’t want a baby, she told us that it was very difficult for her. Furthermore, she didn’t know how to carry the pregnancy, about nutrition in pregnancy, how to care for herself and the baby during pregnancy due to lack of knowledge. She was very anxious and had nausea and vomiting. She was worried about body changes especially weight gain and physical appearance.
I felt sad to hear that her pregnancy was unwanted and she was not happy with that. I wondered how I could help her, as she was clearly in extreme stress which had a direct impact on her as well as on her child. There were tears in my eyes when she said that it was like a punishment for her. I gave her therapeutic advice and encouraged her to be brave because it’s a natural phenomenon that all women experience.
Pregnancy is a time during which stress, body changes and emotional changes occur. Stress is common but feeling excessive stress is not good. Stress occurs due to hormonal changes which can cause mood swings and make it harder to handle stress. The discomfort occurs due to many reasons i.e. constipation, nausea vomiting, backache and tiredness.
According Parker and Douglas (2010), the biological definition of stress is “increased hormone secretion from the neuroendocrine hypothalamus-pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis”. Cortisol is released in response to fear or stress by the adrenal gland as a part of fight or flight response. Elevated levels of cortisol increase the risk of stress, depression and mental illness in pregnancy. Too much stress can increase the chances of preterm birth and low birth baby weight.”
As per the World Health Organization, (2009), “preterm birth (PTB) is the leading cause of infant mortality and morbidity. Infants born preterm (before 37 weeks of completed gestation) are at a greater risk of various health and developmental problems.” According to Aleksandra Staneva (2015), “too much stress during pregnancy can affect the immune system. If the immune system is weak then how can the mother prevent the child from infections and there are chances of many other diseases as well.
Maternal stress can also affect the child’s brain development and in later stages, the child may face attention deficit problem” Many individuals suffer from stress and tension in pregnancy. When I reflected upon my knowledge regarding the situation, I realized that I hadn’t been able to provide her much support as I didn’t have sufficient knowledge. Per Dossey et al, (2005)” Engrossing in fundamental and interdisciplinary dialog and partnership that foster deep personal support, trust and therapeutic therapies are important for a nurse to give holistic care.”
For the next community rotation, I prepared teaching of stress coping and nutrition in pregnancy and gave her information which enhanced her knowledge and helped identify the causes. This included intervention related to diet, and stress coping in pregnancy. I also taught her how to decrease stress and mind diversion activities like laughing and asked her to get involved in relaxing activities. For example, my client loved to cook and watch dramas.
According to Christine Dunkel Schetter (2012) “Eat healthy food, get plenty of sleep and exercise. Know that the discomforts of pregnancy are temporary. Try relaxation activities like prenatal yoga or meditation. Spend time with your partner, family and friends and share your problems. Practice deep breathing exercise and if you feel overwhelmed, then consult your doctor.”
In conclusion, care givers should provide holistic care to those struggling with excessive stress in pregnancies. Teaching them deep breathing whenever they are in stress can help control their anger and stress. Furthermore, asking open ended questions and gaining their trust is necessary so that they accept us as well and give information regarding their concerns so that main problem is identified. A community nurse must not only be aware of their clinical practices but should also be competent in critical thinking and advocacy, should be vigilant and possess analytical skills.
Schetter, C. D., & Tanner, L. (2015). Anxiety, depression and stress in pregnancy: implications for mothers, children, research, and practice. PMC, 25, 141-148. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4447112/i
Dossey, B., Keegan, L., & Guzzetta, C. (2005). Holistic nursing. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett. Retrieved from
P, V. J., & D, A. J. (2010). Stress in early pregnancy: maternal neuro-endocrine-immune responses and effects. Journal of Reproductive Immunology, 85(1), 86-92. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016503780900552X
Duncan, L. G., & Bardacke, N. (2010). Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting Education: Promoting Family Mindfulness During the Perinatal Period. Journal of Child and Family, 19(2), 190-202. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016503780900552X
Staneva, A., Bogossian, F., Pritchard, M., & Wittkowski, A. (2015). The effects of maternal depression, anxiety, and perceived stress during pregnancy on preterm birth: A systematic review. Women and Birth, 28(3), 179-193. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S187151921500030X
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