What’s Happening to Me? Understanding Your Moods and Emotions during Pregnancy
There is no perfect way to be pregnant. You may cry, without warning. You may laugh, uncontrollably. You may get irritable, even with the people you love. If you are expecting, or are supporting a woman through her pregnancy, you will likely have some experience with mood swings during the coming weeks and months. Hold on tight, take a deep breath and get ready for the ride. It will all be so worth it in the end.
What’s important to know is that mood swings are a normal part of pregnancy. While the roller coaster of emotions won’t necessarily happen on cue, there are some things that might be expected in each trimester. Texas Health is here to help you understand the changes you may experience and how to take care of yourself along the way.
First Trimester: Waterworks and Baby Brain
Expecting a baby can leave you feeling excited, anxious or on the verge of a meltdown at any given moment. Even if you’re thrilled about being pregnant, it’s natural to worry about things like your baby’s health, your readiness for parenthood and the financial demands of raising a child. These legitimate worries can lead to a sudden outburst of crying, but silly things can bring the waterworks just as well ― a certain song or a baby in a TV commercial.
“The body and brain undergo some major adjustments during pregnancy, thanks in large part to hormonal changes,” explains obstetrician/gynecologist Rita Wood, D.O., OB/GYN on the medical staff at Texas Health Fort Worth. “All women have different experiences, but for some the emotional ups and downs can be especially extreme in the first trimester.”
Dr. Wood also notes that due to soaring levels of the hormone progesterone during early pregnancy, women have a tendency to experience what’s known as baby, or pregnancy, brain. “This is a hormone that can induce fatigue and lead to forgetfulness for mom-to-be. She may easily forget what she’s doing, misplace things or even lose track of her thoughts.”
Second Trimester: Bliss and Boundless Energy
Any morning sickness that may have reared its ugly head during the first trimester may ease now. That’s reason enough to be happy. But you may also find yourself laughing out loud at the drop of a hat because of a fluctuation in the hormone estrogen, which can produce a sense of well-being or giddiness to go along with the joy of expecting a baby. This is why the second trimester is often called “The Happy Trimester.”
“During this time, a woman may feel less tired and more up to making preparations for baby,” Wood says. “Take advantage of this time to check into childbirth classes, find a pediatrician, read about breastfeeding and generally get things done.”
Third Trimester: Crabby Tendencies and Nesting
As your due date nears, you might find your exhilaration turns to crankiness as you grow larger and more uncomfortable, and as sleep becomes an impossible task. At this point you might snap at everyone, including your partner. Instead of becoming angry that your mate doesn’t instinctively know how to help, guide him or her in ways that will lift your mood.
Another expression of the crazies at this stage of pregnancy is the urge to clean and organize. “This is due to an increase of oxytocin, the hormone that prepares a woman’s uterus for labor and her breasts for nursing,” Wood adds. “The desire to make changes in ones living environment represents something the woman feels she can control when all else seems to be changing. I’ve had patients tell me they refolded every towel in the linen closet or cleaned the whole house just before heading to the hospital.”
6 Ways to Survive Pregnancy Emotions
The American Pregnancy Association offers these tips to help you not only survive but thrive when your emotions take over.
- Get regular exercise and stick to a healthy diet to spur positive feelings over negative ones
- Adjust your schedule if your current level of activity proves to be too draining or stressful
- Allow yourself to get extra bed rest and downtime
- To stay calm, write your thoughts in a journal to share with your child in the future
- Keep asking questions ― knowing what to expect can help you have the most positive birth experience
- Talk to other moms about their positive birth experiences and look to loved ones for encouragement
If you have a history of depression, be sure to tell your doctor. Changing hormone levels can contribute to or worsen depression during pregnancy, and it can linger and become more severe after you give birth.
Finding support and guidance you can trust throughout your pregnancy can help relieve anxiety or stress and make sure you’re staying healthy and safe. Texas Health is here for you every step of the way. For more information for moms-to-be, visit TexasHealth.org.