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Health Before

Pregnancy

Last Reviewed: April 2017
The latch

Managing Your Stress

What is Stress?

Stress is our body's response to what we believe to be a challenge. This response can be positive and help us reach peak performance. We also experience the negative effects of stress when we believe the demands on us are more then we can manage.

We all need a certain amount of stress in our lives to be productive and happy. Think about how winning a lottery would make you feel. Some people like the thrill that they get from a roller coaster ride or a white-water rafting trip. Yet stress does not always end in this feeling of cheerful excitement.

Physical signs of stress include:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Muscle tension
  • Increased heart rate
  • Headaches
  • Restless sleep
  • Stomach and digestive problems

These symptoms are brought on by the release of adrenaline and cortisol, the hormones that ready our bodies for a "flight or fight" response. Over time, repeated exposure to stress without calmer periods can lead to distress, which is harmful to our bodies.

Some long-term effects of unchecked stress include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Anxiety
  • Stomach and bowel Problems
  • Lowered immune response
  • Trouble sleeping

How Stress Affects Fertility

Unmanaged stress can also affect fertility. It may change a woman's biological clock - her menstrual cycles and the timing of an egg being released. In men, stress can alter hormone levels and the amount of sperm produced. These changes are short-term and can be reversed once stress is controlled. (Adapted from "Your Health Before Pregnancy" Best Start)

How do You Handle Stress?

Everyone reacts to stress differently. Understanding how stress affects you is the first step in learning how to manage it.

Finding a balance in life can help you manage stress. Look at your family and work situation and find new ways to share roles or tasks, or learn ways to cope with the things you can't change.

Ways to Manage Stress

Try to practise ways to manage your everyday stress before you get pregnant.

Find a healthy balance between work and play. Examine your relationships and work situation, and then try new ways of managing difficult situations.

Start reducing your stress level today by:

  • Learning to recognize your personal signs of stress
  • Looking more closely at your lifestyle and seeing what can be changed in:
    • Your family situation
    • Your work situation
    • Your thoughts
    • Your schedule
  • Exercising regularly to relieve physical and emotional tension
  • Eating a healthy diet

When stress is properly handled, many health problems can be prevented. You can then enjoy the benefits that new situations like a job promotion or a new baby can bring to enhance your life.

For more information:
Region of Peel — Public Health
905-799-7700 Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Caledon residents call free of charge at 905-584-2216

To speak with a Public Health Nurse

Coping with Stress at Work
Account for Health - Solutions for A Healthier Workplace
Region of Peel - Public Health


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Revised: Thursday June 22 2017

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