We share our top tips for staying sane and keeping pregnancy mood swings under control
You're fine one minute, crying or shouting the next; there's no doubt about it, being pregnant plays havoc with your emotions! However, whether you find yourself in tears at the smallest thing or incensed to rage by a harmless action, dealing with these emotions on top of everything else that comes along with a positive pregnancy test can be very stressful itself.
Why do you get mood swings in pregnancy?
Anyone who has ever suffered with PMT will understand the emotional havoc that oestrogen and progesterone, the hormones that regulate your reproductive system, are capable of wreaking. During pregnancy these same hormones, along with many others, are getting down to work and it's these hormonal fluctuations that cause the mood swings that can leave you feeling a little volatile. However, hormones only play a partial role in the underlying cause of mood swings in pregnancy, a lot of it is actually part of the emotional response to news that you are becoming a parent.
Hormones aside, pregnancy is a time of great change; you're not only having to deal with all the bodily changes that come with growing a baby (cue fatigue, morning sickness, weight gain and difficulty sleeping to name a few) but also have to figure out the practical side too such as how will you afford a baby, what you will do about work, not to mention how you'll cope with the responsibility of bringing up a child. Understandably these fears, concerns and anxieties can get on top of even the most joyful expectant mother (and father!) building up the stress that's relieved through mood swings.
How long will the mood swings last?
It's often the case that mood swings predominantly accompany the first trimester as your hormones are going into overdrive to establish your pregnancy and you're still getting around the idea of being pregnant.
Generally, the second trimester will be a calmer phase as your body begins to take things in its stride, however as with anything, mood swings in pregnancy differ from woman to woman so you may still find yourself getting a bit overemotional at times.
Some women find that mood swings come back during the final trimester as you start to make preparations for the birth and become less uncomfortable as your baby finishes growing.
Generally, as long as you have periods of relative calm between mood swings you shouldn't worry. However, if you persistently feel blue it's important to talk to your doctor as you may be one of the many women who suffer with mild antenatal depression.
How can I manage my pregnancy mood swings?
It's easier said than done but relaxing and looking after yourself is the best way to cope with mood swings in pregnancy. It's a good idea to:
- Take time out - Whether it's a massage, soak in the tub, long walk or a night in with the remote that helps you to relax it's important that you indulge as often as possible. It's quality 'me' time that will help reduce your overall stress levels, make you feel human and help you to cope better emotionally with the changes that you're going through.
- Eat well - A balanced diet is an almost essential in pregnancy to ensure that your body gets all the nutrients it needs to grow a healthy baby. However, good eating habits will also help you to regulate your hormones and minimise the ups and downs many women experience. It will also give you more energy to help cope when you do feel down in the dumps.
- Exercise - Whether it's swimming, yoga, walking or something else, exercising as regularly as you can will help to boost the levels of happy hormones (endorphins) in your body, giving you a lasting buzz that will keep you smiling. Exercise is also a great outlet for any anxieties and frustrations that you have and can help you to feel more in control of your changing body.
- Talk it out - It's so true that talking about how you're feeling will make everything seem a lot more bearable. So, whether it's to family, friends, or even on the forums, talking about what you're going through with people that understand will halve the load and stop you from feeling overwhelmed and alone.
- Nurture your relationship - It's often partners that suffer the brunt of pregnancy mood swings and they can often find it difficult to understand something that they can't experience. Make sure you continue spending one on one time with your partner, explain to them how you feel and let them know how you really feel about them and your pregnancy despite the emotional outbursts.
Feeling over emotional can be overwhelming itself especially if you're usually a very controlled person but remember, mood swings are a completely natural part of pregnancy and a sign that your hormones are doing their job to help your baby to grow. So, while it may seem hard, try and focus on the time when you have your baby in your arms and all of this was worth it.