Gain insight into why you are experiencing pregnancy mood swings and how to manage it.
Pregnancy is a journey full of physical and emotional challenges. A huge emphasis is usually put on the physical aspect of pregnancy, but less attention is given to the emotional ups and downs a new mother could be experiencing.
What Triggers Pregnancy Mood Swings?
Physical changes during pregnancy have a huge effect on your body, mood, metabolism, physical appearance and sleeping habits.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy cause the brain chemicals that control moods to change, and as a result, many women experience a range of emotions from elation, anxiety to depression from one moment to the next, especially during the early days of pregnancy. The hormonal culprits behind this? Estrogen and progesterone.
Estrogen activates the part of the brain that controls mood, hence a surge in estrogen can cause fear, moodiness and melancholy.
Progesterone helps muscles and ligaments to loosen up, but on the flip side, it can cause you to feel tired and lazy. Sometimes this hormone may make you feel sad for no reason at all!
The first and last trimester can be very tiring for new mothers. It’s natural to feel more tired as your body works extra hard to nourish and develop the baby. In the first trimester, sudden hormonal changes will make your energy levels dip. The increase in progesterone and estrogen also acts as a natural sedative to make you feel groggy.
New mothers may also experience insomnia due to restless leg syndrome (the urge to move your legs while you are in a relaxed or sleepy state) in the third trimester. Your may it difficult to sleep with your ever-growing belly bump, and you are most likely to be experiencing backaches and pains as well.
It has been noted that women who experience premenstrual mood swings (PMS) are also more likely to have pregnancy mood swings as well. A study also found that PMS was also prevalent in women who suffered from postpartum depression.
How to Cope with Mood Swings
Sudden fluctuations in mood are hard to deal with, and you might feel as if you have little control over these flare-ups. Relax, take a deep breath, and take a look at our tips for managing your emotions better.
Get quality sleep
Prioritizing sleep is the best decision an expecting mother can do. If you’re having trouble sleeping due to backaches, try sleeping on your side. Some doctors suggest sleeping on your left side, as your liver is on the right side of your body, and sleeping in this position avoids having your uterus pressing down on your liver. Lying on the left side also improves blood circulation to your heart and to your fetus as well.
If you have restless leg syndrome, try doing some light stretches before going to bed. Ensuring that you are getting sufficient calcium and magnesium in your diet also helps with leg cramps.
Do low-impact exercises
Endorphins released after exercising is a real mood booster. If you’re feeling cranky, just doing some light walking, swimming or other low-impact exercises can instantly lift your mood and get you feeling positive in no time.
Mindful awareness activities such as yoga and meditation are also extremely beneficial for lowering stress, so learn to take deep breaths and shift your focus when the going gets tough.
Yes, food can influence how you feel! It’s important to eat by the food pyramid to get all the necessary nutrients for your body. A well-balanced diet is crucial for your baby to grow healthily as well.
An unhealthy diet and irregular eating habits may lead to insufficient nutrients being absorbed by the body, which in turns affect your mood and energy levels.
Lean on your loved ones
Often times women try to do everything themselves even while expecting. But carrying a baby for 9 months is tough, and as new mothers, it’s time to learn to ask for help and relieve the pressure. There are many tasks that can be delegated to your partner and don’t be shy to rope in family members for some help in mundane tasks such as sterilizing bottles and doing housework. Joining a support group or connecting with other pregnant mothers in the neighbourhood who could relate to you can also go a long way in easing pent up emotions.
But if you feel you’re experiencing more than just pregnancy blues, don’t feel afraid to reach out to your doctor or therapist for some help. Sometimes our emotions get the best of us, and there is no shame in seeking professional help.
Pregnancy mood swings are just like a tornado of emotions – sometimes you just never knew what hit you! The good news is – mood swings are temporary and part of the wonderful journey of pregnancy, and be rest assured that it will eventually pass.