Stress and Coping Strategies among Pregnant Women

Stress and Coping Strategies among Pregnant Women Attending Ante-Natal Clinic in Federal Medical Center Abakaliki


Pregnancy is a special time for a woman and her family. It is a time of tremendous stress, anxiety, emotional turmoil and readjustment (Ball. 2009, Bick and MacAuthur, 2005, Niel and Roger, 2007). Stress, however does not have to be all bad when managed properly. The rationale of this is to gain insight on stress and the coping strategies among pregnant women. The research setting is Federal Medical Center (FMC). The sample size is 80 pregnant mothers drawn from those attending ante-natal clinic in Federal Medical Centre Abakaliki. Convenience sampling technique was used for data collection, a structural interview schedule comprising of section A and B was used to generate data. Section A is on demographic data, while section B is based on stress and coping strategies among pregnant women attending ante-natal clinic in Federal Medical Center Abakaliki. The data was analyzed by the researcher using percentage (%). It was observed that stress has no negative effect on pregnancy when managed appropriately.



Background of the study

Stress is defined as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand made upon it” (Hans, 2005). Pregnancy is a state of being with child (Morgan, 2005). According to research carried out by Ball (1999), Bock and MacArthur (2005), Niel and Roger (2007), pregnancy is a time of tremendous stress, anxiety, emotional turmoil and readjustment. The World Health Organization (WHO) calls stress worldwide epidemic. This is because it has recently been observed to associate with 90% of visits to physicians. Stress has been explained, defined, characterized and conceptualized from a biological, psychological, chemical, physiological and medical perspective. Stress is a composite and multi-dimensional condition impacting with profound consequence on living organism. However, when physical or emotional strain builds up to uncomfortable levels, it can become harmful for pregnant mothers. Sleeplessness, anxiety, back aches, etc, result. When a level of stress continues for a long period, it may contribute to potentially serious health problems such as lowered resistance to infection disease, high blood pressure, etc, studies also suggests that high level of stress may pose special risk during pregnancy (Glynn, 2006). John Stone (2005) reports that increased stress during pregnancy is both essential and normal for psychological adjustment of pregnant women. The research summarizes that the “worry work” pregnant women encounter assist in their psychological adaption to the emotional changes of pregnancy.

For years, obstetricians have looked whether an increase in stressful events cause miscarriage, result on preterm delivery, or in some other ways harm a fetus. Up till recently, the consensus had been that while excessive work can bring on preterm labour, emotional stress did not seem to have negative effects on pregnancy outcomes. This conclusion, however, has recently been challenged. There now is information to indicate that stress can cause the body to produce certain hormones that can perhaps cause miscarriage and very likely can bring a preterm labour. Additionally, even if doctors, have no links between stress and its negative pregnancy outcomes, pregnant women world want to decrease the amount of stress they have to contend with just because of how unpleasant it makes them feel. These motivational consequences of stress can range from mild sense of being overwhelmed to severe episodes of depression. They can eventually lead to pregnant women feeling withdrawn and being unable to function.

Stress in manageable dose is a normal phenomenon (known as eustress) of everyday life helping us in our dealing with others. Pregnancy related discomforts such as nausea, fatigue, frequent urination, swelling and back ache, can be stressful, especially if a pregnant women attempts to accomplish event she did prior to pregnancy (Glynn, 2005). A pregnant woman can help reduce her stress by recognizing that the symptoms are temporary and that their health care providers can recommend ways to cope with them.

A number of studies have suggested that very high level of stress may increase the risk of preterm labour and low birth weight babies (Morgan, 2005) a study by the university of Los Angeles, school of medicine found that women who reported high level of stress at 18 to 20 weeks of pregnancy were more likely to have high level of hormone called corticotrophin–releasing hormone (CRH) in their blood.

A research carried out by Maccubin (2005) reported that the blood pressure of pregnant women rises as a result of stress. They also tend to have low birth weight babies as well as preterm babies. A pregnant woman should eat an adequate diet, get enough rest and avoid alcohol, cigarette, drugs and exercise regularly (with the consent of their healthcare providers). Are they things pregnant women can do to reduce the stress they have and to change how they feel? The answer is yes. This could be achieved by readjusting your lifestyle to reduce stress and specific maneuvers and activities you can do to change how you feel-both physically and emotionally about the stress you are under. Riley (2005) suggested a number of stress reduction techniques used successfully in pregnancy; these include biofeedback, meditation, guided mental imagery and yoga (especially for pregnant women).

Statement of problem

          This issue of stress during pregnancy has lead to many negative effects both to the pregnant women and the baby in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State due to concerns about labour. The health of her baby and how they will cope once the baby arrives; if there are developing problems not looked into promptly, the leading to both the productive mothers and their babies will be affected leading to mortality and morbidity rate in the community which threatens the future of Abakaliki town as a whole.

Purpose of study

The purpose of this study is on stress and coping strategies among pregnant women attending ante-natal clinic in Ebonyi State University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.

Objectives of the study

The objectives of the study are to:

  1. Determine the knowledge of pregnant women on stress
  2. Determine the knowledge of pregnant women on coping strategies
  3. Determine the attitude of women towards stress coping strategies.

Significance of study

          The education unit of the ministry of health will benefit from the study as they will provide means of advising and educating pregnant women attending ante-natal clinic in Federal Medical Center Abakaliki (FMC) on the stress and coping strategies.     Residents of Abakaliki will benefit from the study as the government will build and equip health centers and hospitals for them, and also improve antenatal care for mothers.

Research Questions

          The study seeks to address the following questions:

  1. What do pregnant women know aabout stress?
  2. What is the knowledge of pregnant women about coping strategies?
  3. What is the attitude of women towards stress coping strategies?

Scope of the study

          The scope of the study is centered on pregnant women attending ante-natal clinic at the Federal Medical Center Abakaliki (FMC).

 Operation definition of terms

Stress: A feeling of worries about work or personal life that prevents one from relaxing.

Pregnant woman: A woman with a baby developing in her body.

Coping strategy: The ability of planning the best way to adapt to a given situation.

Ante-natal clinic: A place where pregnant women go to receive proper medical attention.

Eustress: A good type of stress that helps us perform better in our dealing with others.

Distress: A bad type of stress that cause upset or makes us sick.

Puerperal psychosis: A mental disorder that occurs following child birth.

—This article is incomplete———–This article is incomplete———— It was extracted from a well articulated quality Project, Research Work/Material

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Stress and Coping Strategies among Pregnant Women Attending Ante-Natal Clinic in Federal Medical Center Abakaliki

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