Expert Jill Wodnick answers questions on maternal wellness and stress reduction

Stress Reduction in Pregnancy:

Jill Wodnick is a dynamic communicator with a monthly column on prenatal stress reduction and harnessing one's intuition for Pregnancy Magazine, as well as works as an expert on maternal wellness for Destination Maternity. For the PBS program, Real Savvy Mom's, Jill helps viewers learn stress reduction tools that can reduce the preterm labor and support the immune system in pregnancy. Jill has years practicing as a certified birth doula, childbirth educator and creator of women’s rites and rituals for pregnancy and birth. She has trained women’s health professionals at Expectant Head Start, the Black Infant Mortality Resource Reduction Center as well as hundreds of expectant parents! Jill is passionate about the essential topic of maternal-child stress reduction for optimal health. Jill's guided imagery cd, 'Prenatal Peace & Calming' supports the work of global maternal health through tithing the proceeds of her cd for midwifery supplies to EarthBirth, making childbirth safe in war torn regions. Find her cd downloaded as an MP3 at

Jill is available on mybestbirth this week to answer any questions on maternal wellness and stress reductions. Here are a fewquestions on this topic with Jill’s answers posted to Destinaton Maternity’s Expert Advice column. Feel free to write in your question or concern to Jill here.

How can I can connect with my growing baby and also reduce stress?

Pregnancy is wonderful time to experience your entire body systems, beyond just the thinking mind. Activities that are internally focused and multi-sensory can help you connect more with your baby. Try cutting and pasting images to make a collage for your baby, drawing your strongest image of birth, making a clay sculpture, and singing lullabies to settle the mind and connect your heart with your growing baby. __Pam England, CNM, author of Birthing From Within, ( explains that in labor the brain hemispheres shift from the left brain, the rational, talking brain, to the right brain, the brain of color and sound. This change in the brain during labor optimizes the hormone excretions for mom and baby in labor. So, spending time getting your fingers dirty with pastels, playing with clay, gardening, making bread, singing are all tools that not only nurture your creativity but actively connect you with your baby and prepare your brain for birth.

Why is stress reduction important during pregnancy?

We naturally produce a stress hormone called cortisol, which we need in small amounts. But, too much cortisol is linked to preterm labor, which is rising at serious rates. Stress reduction practices help by connecting women more to their own body wisdom and can positively impact motherhood. Research finds that a consistent stress reduction practice in pregnancy naturally increases dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), melatonin, and serotonin for greater sleep; decreases stress hormones, anxieties, and fears; decreases blood pressure; and normalizes one’s heart rate

My doctor rushes through appointments and dismisses my questions. It’s causing me stress. What can I do?

It’s important to evaluate whether you are philosophically aligned with your healthcare provider. Here’s how:
Pay attention. Note the manner in which you are treated, how your questions are answered or dismissed, and what you anxiety or empowerment level is when you leave your appointment.
Consider all of your options. The OB/GYN you see for pap smears and well woman visits may not be the right person to be the care provider of your pregnancy, labor, and birth. Midwives and family doctors traditionally spend more time at prenatal visits, so this may be a better option if you’re feeling rushed.
Do your research. Think about how many houses you looked at before buying or how much investigation you did before getting a new car. Take that same level of detail and apply it toward your search for a care provider.

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