Pregnancy is a life-changing event full of physical and emotional changes. Understanding these changes will help you have a positive experience. Mood swings during pregnancy are common. You may be excited about being pregnant, but you can also be stressed or overwhelmed. You may have constant worries that contribute to your mood swings.
Mood swings during pregnancy are caused by a variety of factors, including your rapidly changing hormones, the physical discomforts of pregnancy, and the very normal worries of upcoming life change.
Here’s why you may experience emotional ups and downs during pregnancy and how to cope.
Pregnancy Hormones and Mood Swings
One big reason for pregnancy mood swings is your rapidly changing hormones. Specifically, estrogen and progesterone. Mood changes during pregnancy can also be caused by physical stresses, fatigue, changes in your metabolism. Significant changes in your hormone levels can affect your level of neurotransmitters, which are brain chemicals that regulate mood. Mood swings are mostly experienced during the first trimester between 6 to 10 weeks and then again in the third trimester as your body prepares for birth.
Many women look forward to pregnancy and motherhood at some point in their lifetime. But once you do become pregnant, whether the pregnancy was planned or not, your feelings may be different from what you expected. Women who anticipated feeling fearful may be surprised at ease; those who thought they were ready may suddenly feel unsure.
It’s not just estrogen that’s increasing. The hormone progesterone also rapidly increases during pregnancy, especially during the first three months. While estrogen is usually associated with energy (and too much of it associated with nervous energy), progesterone is associated with relaxation.
Remember to take good care of yourself, as you are the priority at the moment. In a few years, you might look back at these nine months and miss them greatly.
What Triggers Mood Swings
Hormones trigger mood swings during pregnancy, but it’s not only the hormones. The discomforts of pregnancy can cause emotional distress as well. For example, morning sickness during the first trimester. Fatigue is another common early pregnancy symptom and one that can cause mood swings. No one feels well emotionally when they are tired, and you may feel really tired during those first months of pregnancy.
During the second trimester, hormones are still changing but much less so than during the first three months. Most women feel more energy and don’t have morning sickness anymore. Still, there are potential emotional triggers. For one, during the second trimester, the body shape changes really kick in. Some women can avoid maternity clothing during the first trimester, but by the second, the need for extra room is unavoidable.
During the third trimester, getting comfortable at night can be a problem. Fatigue and difficulty with sleep can lead to mood swings. Fears and worries about the upcoming birth can get intense during the last trimester, along with worries about becoming a mother (or worries about mothering another child).
How to Cope With All These Mood Swings
Although all of the above are normal, you can take measures to lessen your mood swings during this exciting but stressful time:
- Stay physically healthy. Eat well, exercise and get plenty of rest. If you don’t feel well or are tired, you’re more likely to be anxious or upset.
- Become informed. For example, attend prenatal and childbirth classes and read books about pregnancy. Knowing what to expect, hearing from professionals and meeting other parents-to-be can help to alleviate stress.
- Share your thoughts and feelings with your partner, friends or family members.
- Avoid overextending yourself with home or work commitments.
What should I do to treat my mood swings?
It is important to understand you are not alone. Mood swings are just another aspect of the pregnancy experience. Knowing that what you are experiencing is normal and somewhat expected may help you cope.
When should I seek professional help?
If your mood swings last more than two weeks and do not seem to get better, you may want to ask your health care provider for a referral to a counselor. More than 11 million American women are affected by depression each year. Depression is most prevalent in women during childbearing years but can occur at any age.
Check with your healthcare provider before taking any medication for depression or mood swings, including herbal remedies. Always consult your healthcare provider before taking any drugs, over-the-counter or prescription, during pregnancy.
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