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Mantras and breathing exercises to combat stress during pregnancy

Breathing exercises can be beneficial for anyone experiencing stress or anxiety.

But such techniques can also be particularly useful for pregnant women, especially as they journey through the different trimesters and may not be able to exercise as much or have varying energy levels.

As for a simple way to maintain a sense of calm, yoga teacher Grace Sisto at triyoga (triyoga.co.uk) recommends researching mantras that can help pregnant women relax and also prepare for birth.

She recommends, "I trust my body, my instinct and nature to lead me and my baby gently through labour and birth," and "I feel positive, confident and optimistic, and I look forward to my baby's birth".

It's possible to create your own mantra or ask a yoga teacher for some ideas too.

And when it comes to breathing techniques, Grace suggested focusing on simple practices that can be undertaken anywhere or anytime during the day.

"Within the yoga teachings there are many pranayamas (breathing techniques) that can benefit women during pregnancy. These should be practised with the safe guidance of a teacher," the expert continued.

Bhramari pranayama (bee breath) is a particularly good option, as it involves sitting in a comfortable, seated position with the eyes closed and making a buzzing or humming sound while inhaling and exhaling through the nose.

"Pregnancy is a process of growth for the woman as well as the baby, especially in first pregnancies, and many feel vulnerable at times. They have never experienced those sensations before, and all of a sudden, they feel responsible for the little life growing inside of them," Grace added. "The first steps are to ask for advice from health and fitness professionals who are prenatally trained. Try to avoid anecdotal and especially unsolicited advice that leaves you in doubt or scared. You want to be surrounded by people and listen to experiences that give you confidence and inspire you."