Mood swings

One minute you're giddy with happiness. A few minutes later, you feel like crying. Especially in the first trimester and toward the end of the third trimester, mood swings are common. Your emotions may run from exhilaration and joy to exhaustion, irritation, weepiness or depression. If you've typically experienced premenstrual syndrome, you may have more extreme mood swings when you're pregnant.

What causes this moodiness? Some of it may be linked to pregnancy-related discomforts such as nausea, frequent urination, swelling and backache, all of which can interfere with sleep. Fatigue, changing sleep patterns and new bodily sensations can all influence how you feel. You may also be adjusting to a new body image, especially during your first pregnancy. Your fatigue and discomfort are reasons enough to feel stressed emotionally, and in turn, feeling down can affect how you feel physically.

Mood changes may also be caused by the release of hormones and changes in your metabolism. Just as fluctuations in progesterone, estrogen and other hormones are linked to the blues many women feel before their period or after giving birth, these hormonal changes may play a role in the mood changes of pregnancy.

In addition, pregnancy brings a number of new stresses to your life. Adjusting to lifestyle changes and preparing for new responsibilities may leave you feeling up one day and down the next. Added financial responsibilities are another common source of stress, as are worries about the health of the baby and your ability to be a good parent.

Pregnancy has a major impact on your body, your relationships and many other aspects of your life. It's a time when you need extra support from your partner, family, employer and community. Unfortunately, that support isn't always there.

Mood swings are normal during pregnancy and are usually nothing to worry about. But they can make it more difficult to cope with stress. When stress builds up to uncomfortable levels, it can cause fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, poor appetite or overeating, headaches, and backaches. Stress over a long period of time can contribute to potentially serious health problems.

If you're coping well with stress — you're feeling energized rather than drained, and you're functioning well — some added stress won't be a hazard to your health or your baby's health.

Prevention and self-care for mood swings

Simply knowing more about why you're feeling moody — and knowing that these mood swings are temporary — can help you weather the storms, as can the following healthy habits. And practicing these habits may even help you prevent mood swings altogether:

• Keep yourself healthy and fit by eating a nutritious diet, getting plenty of sleep, avoiding alcohol, cigarettes and drugs, and exercising regularly. Exercise is a natural stress reducer and can help prevent backache, fatigue and constipation.

• Boost your support network. This may include your partner, family, friends and a support group. A good support network can provide emotional support and help with tasks around the home.

• Be sure to make time to relax each day. Try relaxation techniques such as meditation, guided mental imagery and progressive muscle relaxation. These kinds of relaxation exercises are often taught in childbirth classes.

• Accept that you may not be able to accomplish everything you did before getting pregnant. Cut back on unnecessary activities that are contributing to your stress or discomfort.

■ When to seek medical help for mood swings

Moods that interfere with your ability to function may be more than a passing case of fatigue, stress or the blues. Exaggerated mood swings that last more than two weeks may be a sign of depression. Mild depression is quite common in pregnant women. If you're consistently feeling sad, weepy or worthless and you notice that your eating and sleeping are affected, your work is disrupted or you take less pleasure in things you normally enjoy, you may be experiencing depression.

If your mood swings seem to be more than you can handle alone or if you have signs and symptoms of depression, talk to your health care provider about them. Depression is a serious disease that you have no more control over than strep throat. During pregnancy, depression may be treated with counseling, psychotherapy, medications or a combination of those. Be sure to seek help if you have the signs and symptoms of depression.

Staying Relaxed

Staying Relaxed

Start unlocking your hidden power with self hypnosis by relaxing and staying relaxed. This is just the audio you have been looking for to do just this.

Get My Free MP3 Audio


Post a comment