Those pregnant or helping someone through pregnancy would be quite familiar with the emotional changes and mood swings, which are common during this time. Ranging from surprise and excitement over finding out the pregnancy to stress and anxiety over the well being of the growing baby and the changes it will bring in the couple’s lives, pregnancy can get quite overwhelming.
However, it is important to know that these emotional changes are quite normal. By understanding why these happen and being prepared for it can allow couples to brace their pregnancy positively and adapt with the changes taking place in the body, relationships and their future.
What causes emotional changes during pregnancy?
Fatigue, stress, and metabolic changes that accompany pregnancy contribute to changing moods and emotional disturbances. Another major reason for mood changes is the action of hormones like oestrogen and progesterone, the levels of which undergo major changes during pregnancy. These hormones cause changes in the level of neurotransmitters, the chemicals in brain that control moods. Since the most dramatic hormonal changes occur in the first trimester followed by the third trimester, these are the times when maximum mood changes occur.
How to maintain emotional well-being during pregnancy?
The first thing to do when taking charge of emotions is to know that this is all a normal part of the pregnancy.
The bodily changes that bring about emotions during pregnancy cannot be controlled, but it is possible to cope with the situation through simple management techniques like:
- Eating well
- Ensuring plenty of sleep
- Taking naps during the day to prevent fatigue
- Getting regular physical activity like walks, swims, etc.
- Taking time to relax with activities like catching a movie, practising a hobby, spending time with partner
- Joining prenatal yoga or meditation classes
When it’s time to get help
Each pregnancy is different; every woman experiences different levels of emotional changes. While it may be a happy time for some, other women may endure their pregnancy as a stressful experience. It is crucial to realise when negative emotions begin to signal a more chronic depression-like condition. A continuous bad mood will cause a loss of confidence, lack of sleep, exhaustion, feeling of numbness and detachment from relationships.
Depression can be managed by bringing in a positive and well-balanced approach to daily life. A good diet and physical activity can uplift mood. Anti-depressant medication might become necessary for some women.
Most pregnant women are able to take charge of their emotional lows by first understanding that these are normal during pregnancy, and following it up with positive changes in routine. Pregnancy is a unique experience and emotional changes must not ruin the entire experience!
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“Emotional & Mental Wellbeing,” The Rotunda Hospital Dublin, http://www.rotunda.ie/MaternityCare/StayingHealthyduringPregnancy/EmotionalMentalWellbeing.aspx
“Emotions during pregnancy,” NCT.org.uk, http://www.nct.org.uk/pregnancy/emotions-during-pregnancy
“Mood Swings During Pregnancy,” AmericanPregnancy.org, http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/moodswings.html
“Pregnancy’s Emotional Roller Coaster,” WebMD.com, http://www.webmd.com/baby/features/pregnancy-emotional-roller-coaster