Understanding Mood Swings During Pregnancy: 5 FAQs
Pregnancy and motherhood are the most beautiful and significantly life altering events over the course of a woman’s life. Those 9 months aren’t easy, physically, mentally and emotionally. Emitting light on an expecting mother’s emotional well-being, it cannot be over-emphasized that pregnancy induces extreme emotions and a lot of distress. Often described by many as an emotional rollercoaster, pregnancy goes hand in hand with, what can be best described as, “mood swings.”
1. Do hormonal changes during pregnancy cause mood swings?
Yes, mood swings during pregnancy are a direct result of the rapidly changing hormones—estrogen and progesterone. Both estrogen levels and progesterone levels soar during the first three months of pregnancy.
While estrogen is related with energy, progesterone is connected with relaxation. Estrogen activates the brain chemical serotonin (“happy” hormones), leading to imbalances in the neurotransmitter which causes anxiety and irritability. On the other hand, progesterone leads to muscle relaxation, which then becomes a major cause of constipation during pregnancy.
Excessive relaxation owing to this hormone leads to the common condition of fatigue and sadness in pregnant women. In a nutshell, the irritability and anxiety as induced by estrogen, and sadness and fatigue induced by progesterone trigger emotional imbalances and thus mood swings.
2. How does physical discomfort of pregnancy contribute to mood swings?
Besides hormonal changes, physical discomforts of pregnancy induce a ton of emotional distress, leading to mood swings. Nausea and vomiting (morning sickness), increased frequency of micturition, heartburn, indigestion, constipation, sore breasts and body aches are just a few of the discomforts a woman experiences during pregnancy, which are enough to make anyone irritable.
Also, the body undergoes major changes during the course of pregnancy. There are changes in the genital organs, breasts, cutaneous changes, weight gain, hematological changes, cardiovascular changes, metabolic changes and what not. As the mother is experiencing these changes in her body, getting used to this can be a little tough initially and that can also be attributed as a cause of the mood swings.
3. What is a trimester-by-trimester guide to pregnancy-induced mood swings?
First trimester (till the 12th week of pregnancy): The uterus is still a pelvic organ, so the mother doesn’t experience any major changes in her looks but due to the increasing hormones, the morning sickness is at its peak in this term.
Feeling nauseated throughout the day, and increased frequency of micturition is troublesome. Other changes during 1st term include breast discomfort, which manifests as a feeling of fullness and a pricking sensation and can be felt as early as 6th – 8th week. To top this, fatigue is a frequent visitor, which only contributes to irritability and anxiety.
Second trimester (from 13th to 28th week): This trimester is also known as the honeymoon period, because the conditions like nausea, vomiting, and frequency of micturition usually subside. The mother feels the fetal movements for the first time during this trimester and the feeling of life growing inside you just overpowers all the negative thoughts.
At this stage, physical changes, however, contribute to emotional distress. Pigmentation over the forehead and cheek is visible and is completely normal. The uterus size starts to enlarge and it is likely for the expecting mother to undergo some body image issues.
Third trimester (from 29th to 40th week): Increased frequency of micturition is felt again as the enlarged uterus presses the urinary bladder. There is a problem in falling asleep at night due to the baby bump and fatigue is also very much present.
4. Can negative emotions and thoughts affect the unborn child?
Owing to mood-swings, it is natural for pregnant women to encounter feelings of frustration, sadness or anger. However, it is equally important to ensure that these negative emotions do not foster for a longer period of time.
If frustration and anger are interfering with your coping mechanism, it can possibly have adverse impact on the unborn child, as indicated by research studies. So much so that prenatal anger can be a leading factor of reduced fetal growth rate.
It is also essential to overcome the prenatal anger and irritability to ensure that the early bonding between you and your infant is not negatively impacted. It is no secret that bonding between a mother and child not only facilitates the newborn’s emotional health but also physical well-being.
5. How can you handle mood swings?
Everyone’s mood swings might differ to some extent from the others, and thus, even handling them can differ from person to person. Some of the most commonly used methods are:
- Mild exercise during pregnancy is usually advised by doctors. Physical activity releases endorphins, which help you feel relaxed and happy.
- It can’t be stressed enough as to how important it is to have a balanced diet during pregnancy.
- Rest is very important in pregnancy. You just not need to rest for yourself but also for the baby. So make sure you are sleeping well and getting adequate rest.
- It is often the closest who suffer most from the mood swings. Spend more time with your partner and close friends and ensure that you keep all the channels of communication open.
Besides everything else, it is crucial for expecting mothers to have a team of experts, who resolve to assist them at every step. It goes without saying that you must “talk to your doctor, nutritionist and fitness counselor”, who can help you smoothly ride through all your mood swings.
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