Changing emotions are, for many women, one of the most common side effects during pregnancy. It can be frustrating and exhausting to shift from one emotion to another and be unable to explain what emotion you are feeling and why. For those who were not very emotional prior to pregnancy, this onslaught of pregnancy emotions may be especially startling.
Causes of Pregnancy Emotions
First, it’s important to remind yourself not to feel guilty or ashamed, if you are in a particular emotional state. Heightened pregnancy emotions are to be expected. There are many external and internal factors which can cause an increase in your emotional state during pregnancy, and it does not mean you are “moody” or “crazy.”Pregnancy emotions are a normal part of development.
During pregnancy, women experience an increase in the production of hormones, such as progesterone and estrogen, depending on how far along they are in their pregnancy.his increase in hormones can have an impact on your emotions and your brain’s ability to monitor those emotions. This is very common and should not be a cause of concern unless you find yourself in a state of intense emotional instability and distress.
For many reasons, pregnancy can bring on additional stress. While starting a family is exciting and filled with a lot of joy, as the pregnancy progresses you may be concerned about the changes it will bring. Pregnant women may find themselves concerned with the future, finances, housing, support, employment, and medical care. This stress can cause emotions to rise, and distract from self-care that may help better manage these emotions.
Body Changes and Body Image
Some women may experience more physical discomfort during their pregnancy than others. As the body changes for your growing baby, you may experience many physical discomforts, from morning sickness to body aches. Body image issues may cause you to feel less physically attractive, as you look in the mirror and see some of the changes in your body. Any of these things can impact both mental and physical health, which adds to stress and can cause a disruption in normal emotions.
Whether from discomfort or stress, many women may experience difficulty sleeping during pregnancy. Lack of sleep has been shown to have a profound impact on a person’s emotional state. So, if your pregnancy is causing vivid dreams or making sleep difficult, this can perpetuate a heightened emotional state and make emotions difficult to manage.
Ways to Cope with Pregnancy Emotions
While it may seem overwhelming, there are many things you can do to cope and make your emotions more manageable.
Some suggestions include:
- Self-care: Listen to your body and mind and be aware of what you need. If a bubble bath sounds relaxing, do it. If you need time alone to relax and read a book or get a pedicure, make time for it.
- Sleep: Getting 8 hours of good sleep can do amazing things for your emotional state. While this may not always be possible, do everything you can to get a healthy amount of sleep. You can experiment with sleeping positions, let your partner know if you are having difficulty sleeping so the two of you can come up with a plan to make sure you are getting the sleep you need.
- Diet: Like sleep, what you eat is a great natural way to help with your mood and emotions. Eating healthy and natural foods, instead of processed foods, promotes both physical and mental health, which contributes to increased emotional stability.
- Support: A supportive and encouraging group of people surrounding you is incredibly important during pregnancy. Making close family and friends aware of your emotions and having people to talk to when you feel overwhelmed is extremely helpful for your emotional health. In some cases, if you are having difficulty with your emotions, professional counseling may be an option to explore.
Pregnancy can be a beautiful time, but it’s important to be prepared for the changes that may occur in your emotional state. It is important to remember pregnancy emotions are normal and not to feel guilty for the array of emotions you are feeling but to be aware of them and respond in a healthy, positive way.
Let your doctor know if you feel like your emotions are extremely unstable, you are experiencing severe depression, or having thoughts of suicide. In these cases, medical intervention or professional counseling may be necessary.
Compiled from the following sources:
Gibbs, R. (2008). Prenatal Care. In Danforth’s obstetrics and gynecology (10th ed., p. 18). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Harms, R. (2004). Mayo Clinic guide to a healthy pregnancy (1st ed.). New York: HarperResource.
Jordan, R. (2014). Exercise, Recreational and occupational issues, and intimate relationships in pregnancy. In Prenatal and postnatal care: A woman-centered approach (pp. 274-279). Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.