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How To Manage High Stress In Pregnancy With Parijat Deshpande

Parijat Deshpande is an expert in high-risk pregnancy. As a trauma-informed health strategist, she helps people balance their nervous, endocrine, and immune systems to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications and preterm delivery.

Parijat Deshpande’s Story 

Parijat’s first pregnancy ended with a loss due to an ectopic pregnancy.

Her second pregnancy was high-risk.

She was terrified of losing her baby and experienced a lot of anxiety. Parijat remembers thinking, “I want somebody to tell me how to stay pregnant; I don’t need somebody to tell me how to be less anxious.”

Sadly, she went into labor with her son at 22 weeks.

While her care team was doing all they could to buy her time before giving birth, she thought, “You know what, there’s one thing nobody’s talking to me about. Which is how I can possibly modulate my preterm contractions by accessing my body in a way nobody else can access.”

Parijat focused inward to modulate her body. She adjusted the physiological state of her body from the threat response to physiological safety.

It worked! Everyone saw her contractions stopping on the monitors when she modulated her body.

While her care team gave her 72 hours, Parijat held off contractions for 15 miraculous days. This was long enough to give her son a chance at life!

Managing Physiological Stress During Pregnancy

Two days before her son was born, Parijat remembered having a lightbulb moment. She remembers sayings, “If we both survived this, I’m quitting everything, and I’m coming back. And I’m teaching women how to do this.”

It took a few years for her to start her work. But once she did, she found 70 years’ worth of data that shows the impact of stress physiology on pregnancy outcomes, yet no implementation in parental care.

Even within the midwifery model of care, which tends to be more holistic, many of the recommendations are outdated. For example, people are encouraged to take deep breaths and put their feet up. However, that’s not in line with what actually needs to happen to reduce stress.

As Parijat says, “It’s not relaxation, that that is the way out of stress; relaxation is the outcome of what we have to do to come out of that threat response.”

When people have a flight or flight response, they often think deep breathing, meditation, positive thoughts, or affirmations will help. So often, none of those things work. So instead, a person needs to get at the body level. Then they can figure out what their body needs to come out of that state.

“For example, when we’re in fight or flight, sometimes we get really fidgety, right, we just sit still, and we’re moving and we, you know, moving our hands around or our legs are moving. It’s because your body’s looking for a way to release that trapped survival stress.”

plus size pregnant woman

How To Modulate Your Body 

There are no tools or steps to modulating your body – but as Parijat shares, there’s a lot we can do. And it begins with going inward first and building the capacity for sensation.

“First, whether it’s pain, discomfort, anxiety, a racing heart, a tight chest, whatever that is, learn to tolerate that first. Get curious about it, because your body’s going to tell you how you need to release it.”

And it’s not going to be deep breathing. And it’s not going to be running around the block or punching a pillow. It’s something very, very small, but really impactful and powerful, but you know, dependent on each person’s body. And that’s really where it begins.”

The ultimate goal is to learn how to tolerate those internal sensations, but that’s not where to begin.

Learn so much more from Parijat Deshpande during episode 173 of the Plus Mommy Podcast. Listen as we have a fascinating conversation about managing high stress during pregnancy, backed by 70 years’ worth of data.

Recording & Show Notes: Plus Mommy Podcast Episode 173

Transcript happily provided upon request. 

Resources Mentioned On The Show:

Parijat Deshpande

Parijat Deshpande is a trauma-informed health strategist, high-risk pregnancy specialist, somatic trauma professional, bestselling author, speaker, and advocate for women who have been through second or third trimester loss, preterm delivery, neonatal loss, and birth trauma, and are preparing for a high-risk pregnancy.