If you’ve ever oscillated between pure, unadulterated joy and complete and utter despair, you can relate to the emotional roller coaster that is pregnancy. It’s a wild ride full of happy highs and lugubrious lows. Buckle up — and stash some tissues for later.
Not every expecting woman will experience these rapid moments of emotive change, but those soon-to-be moms who do fluctuate from fury to fear to felicity will have to learn to roll with the punches — while resisting the urge to actually knock anyone out along the way.
The good news for mamas dealing with ever-changing sentiments: mood swings are temporary. Eventually you will feel like your even-tempered self again. In the meantime, if you want to understand why you might be blowing hot or cold at any given moment, we have some answers — and a few mood-mellowing tips.
There are a handful of reasons you may have mood swings during pregnancy — hormones, sleep deprivation, and nagging anxiety form just the tip of the iceberg.
Rest assured that you are not just being dramatic, there are real physical, physiological, and mental explanations for this seemingly erratic behavior.
Changes in hormone levels
While there are certainly several factors contributing to mood swings, the biggest culprit is a sudden surge in pesky pregnancy hormones. During the early days of gestation, a woman experiences a veritable flood of estrogen and progesterone. These two hormones can do a number on one’s state of mental health.
Estrogen works throughout your entire body and is active in the region of the brain that regulates mood — so it’s no surprise that this hormone is associated with anxiety, irritability, and depression.
Progesterone, on the other hand, is a hormone that helps to loosen your muscles and joints and prevent early contractions. Consequently, it can cause fatigue, sluggishness, and even sadness.
So, yes, a sudden swell of estrogen and progesterone is a recipe for the occasional mama meltdown.
Fatigue and sleep deprivation
First trimester fatigue or late pregnancy sleep deprivation can add fuel to the fickle fire and make it so that anything can send you off the deep end. It’s hard to feel even keeled and upbeat when you’re exhausted to your core.
In the first 12 weeks, “tired” is an understatement. No matter how much sleep you get, you will continue to feel depleted. This can be wearing on your body and mind — especially if you are taking care of other little people, doing your job, and, you know, trying to manage all those other basic life obligations.
Similarly, the end of pregnancy can keep you awake at night. It’s hard to find a comfortable position in bed to accommodate your growing belly, and you are most likely experiencing aches and pains or Braxton-Hicks contractions. Sprinkle on some third-trimester jitters, and it’s no wonder you’re tossing and turning at all hours.
Morning sickness causes intense physical symptoms, but it can have major mental and psychological effects as well. It’s hard to feel like your best self when you’re perpetually in fear that nausea may strike.
It’s never pleasant racing to find a toilet or empty bag to throw up in. With so many inconvenient moments — and the worry you may have to abruptly vomit during business meetings or whilst commuting — it can take a toll on your mood over time.
The stress of wondering if and when your next nausea spell will hit can disrupt your peaceful mindset and give way to rising stress and sadness.
Your changing body could bring you tears of joy or exasperation. Some expecting moms love watching their bellies expand and forms evolve, others feel dismayed watching as their bodies become unrecognizable in a matter of weeks.
The fact that a woman can grow a teeny human is undeniably incredible, but anyone who has ever struggled with body image issues knows that this feat can come with its own set of complicated feelings.
Anxiety and stress
You could be experiencing general anxiety about becoming a parent or welcoming another child into the mix. Stress about life adjustments and finances might have you feeling bitter, worried, or edgy, too.
Mounting anxiety about labor can also make a mom-to-be surly or tense. Fears about delivery are real and rational, but they can escalate to become intrusive.
It’s, of course, natural that you’re going to feel a little cranky whilst perpetually worrying about the pain of contractions or the future of your perineum. There are endless potential complications to fret about, and it can be unnerving for first timers and experienced moms alike.
Furthermore, if you’ve experienced complications or miscarriage in the past, your anxiety is not only understandable, it’s emotionally taxing. Talking to your OB as concerns pop up will help to alleviate some of these nagging nerves.
If you find yourself sobbing at a sappy commercial one minute, and then absolutely enraged over an empty ice-cream container the next, you may be experiencing pregnancy-related mood swings — or perhaps not.
Quickly shifting emotions can be an early sign of pregnancy. Your hormones are suddenly raging, and your inability to control your feelings may catch you off guard. If you suspect you’re pregnant, nerves and anxiety can further drive this response.
If your emotions are all over the place, and you think you might be expecting, the best thing to do is take a pregnancy test. Many women experience similar mood swings before the arrival of their period, so taking a test will give you a definitive answer one way or the other.
No two women have identical pregnancies. While some expecting moms may experience dramatic mood swings, others will feel emotionally stable throughout their nine-month journey. Your mood may even differ between your own pregnancies.
It’s worth noting , though, that women who report premenstrual mood swings tend to experience them during pregnancy, too. A
Those who flip-flop between elation and aggravation will generally feel this emotional push and pull early on in pregnancy, when estrogen and progesterone levels are soaring, and/or late in the third trimester as labor approaches.
Many women will be excited, terrified, and impatient all at once. It’s no wonder your mood may vary, your life is about to change in a very big way.
Not all pregnancy mood swings look or feel alike. You may experience episodes of joviality and moments of sadness. You might get angry over the pettiest problem or laugh uncontrollably over something silly.
You could resent your partner or non-pregnant friends for being able to resume normal lifestyles, or you could have looming anxiety over all the potential “what ifs” of labor and delivery.
If you find yourself happily swept up in getting ready for baby — building cribs, laundering itty-bitty onesies, and child-proofing cabinets and sharp furniture edges, your emotions may be manifesting in nesting behaviors. Nurture that maternal instinct and enjoy this peaceful time of preparation.
Of course, it’s important to distinguish between the normal emotional ups and downs of pregnancy and prenatal depression. While there have been significant strides in helping to identify and de-stigmatize postpartum depression, many women fail to realize that it’s also possible to be depressed during pregnancy.
If you feel perpetually sad, dismayed, or hopeless, it’s critical that you talk to your doctor — for your own health and that of your baby.
Mood swings are a normal side effect of growing a mini-human inside your body (and a small price to pay), but if they’re disrupting your day-to-day life at home, in the workplace, and everywhere in between, there are some strategies you can take to help you better manage them.
If you’ve ever gotten “hangry,” you know that a lack of food can lead to an undesirable outburst. Quiet your inner anger and quell your appetite with healthy, nutritious meals and filling snacks that fuel your body and energize your brain. Sustained energy will help keep you calm and collected.
Exercise is a great stress reliever and mood booster. If you’re feeling unexpectedly blue or crabby, consider doing some light, low-impact cardio, like walking or swimming. Bonus points for outdoor exercise — the fresh air will refresh and invigorate you. Plus, the release of endorphins will encourage feelings of positivity and happiness.
Yoga and meditation are also immensely helpful. Don’t worry if you’re not sure where to start — there’s an app for that. You can learn to stretch, move, or just breathe through moments of intensity.
It’s so important to get quality Zzz’s when you are pregnant. While feeling truly rested might seem unattainable during the first trimester, you can try to maximize the shuteye you do get by sticking to a bedtime routine, maintaining a morning schedule, and napping as needed.
As labor nears, do what you can to promote relaxation despite the general discomfort you are likely feeling. Engage in some breathing exercises before bed, and use pillows to prop yourself up in whatever way helps you feel relatively comfortable (remember that side sleeping is best during the third trimester, though).
Finally, keep in mind that if there’s ever a legitimate excuse to nap, now is your moment.
Talk to your loved ones
Make sure your friends and family members understand how you are feeling and what you are going through. Explain to them that you might occasionally snap or react in a surprising way.
Talking about this can set you and your loved ones up for smoother communication should an issue arise.
You could also consider connecting with other expecting moms who can relate to your current status. Join a local community-based group or find your own virtual one via social media.
Feeling more prepared for pregnancy challenges and having support can
Show yourself grace
Pregnancy is tough. Feeling out of sorts emotionally makes it even harder. Don’t beat yourself up if you overreact to a situation, indulge in a tantrum, or are having a melodramatic minute.
Instead, show yourself some grace and kindness, and know these temper tidal waves are temporary. We all need an emotional release now and again.
Talk to a therapist
If you feel like your emotions are taking on a life of their own, if your anxiety is hampering your ability to function, and/or if you are perpetually depressed, you should seek help.
Talk to your obstetrician or a psychologist. Prenatal depression and anxiety are common, and it’s nothing to feel shame over. You should be enjoying this exciting time of life, so take a step to reclaim your happiness by reaching out to a professional.
Mood swings definitely belong on the lengthy list of less than convenient pregnancy symptoms. While you might be taken aback by outbursts of anger, sudden sadness, and spurts of spirited jubilation, know that these big feelings are all a part of the journey — and they’re getting you ready to experience the most overwhelming emotion of all: unconditional love for your new addition.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Take a break during the day to relax.
- Get regular physical activity.
- Eat well.
- Spend time with your partner.
- Take a nap.
- Go for a walk.
- See a movie with a friend.
The second pregnancy trimester is often called the “honeymoon phase” because many of the uncomfortable symptoms of early pregnancy, like morning sickness, subside during this period. Generally, heightened emotional experiences tend to skew to either the first trimester or the third.How can I control my emotional breakdown during pregnancy? ›
- Get enough sleep. Too little sleep can increase your stress levels, making you more irritable. ...
- Be physically active. ...
- Talk to other moms or pregnant women. ...
- Don't overwhelm yourself.
Exercise increases endorphins and oxytocin in the body; they are both 'feel good' hormones. It doesn't have to be strenuous exercise. Practising yoga or even walking around your local area will encourage oxytocin flow on a regular basis.Can babies feel when Mom is sad? ›
Studies have shown that infants as young as one month-old sense when a parent is depressed or angry and are affected by the parent's mood. Understanding that even infants are affected by adult emotions can help parents do their best in supporting their child's healthy development.Why am I so angry in pregnancy? ›
Some women experience irritability and even anger during pregnancy. Hormone changes are one reason for these mood swings. Just like some women experience irritability just before their period arrives every month, these same women may struggle with feelings of frustration and anger during pregnancy.Can my baby feel when I cry? ›
Research has shown that, during pregnancy, your baby feels what you feel—and with the same intensity. That means if you're crying, your baby feels the same emotion, as if it's their own. During the gestational period, your baby is preparing themselves for life in the outside world.Is it okay to cry a lot when pregnant? ›
Mood swings and crying spells are a normal part of pregnancy, especially during your first trimester as hormones ramp up. It also takes some time to absorb the emotional weight of life's big changes, like having a child. Take a deep breath. It's your pregnancy, you can cry if you want to!How can I be mentally stable during pregnancy? ›
- talk about your feelings to a friend, family member, doctor or midwife.
- try calming breathing exercises if you feel overwhelmed.
- do physical activity if you can – it can improve your mood and help you sleep.
- eat a healthy diet with regular meals.
- try to attend antenatal classes to meet other pregnant people.
Hormones. 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.
If you're emotionally struggling during or after your pregnancy, this is totally normal and will most likely sort itself out with a bit of time. For some women, however, these might be symptoms of perinatal depression, which is both common and treatable.Why don't I feel happy during pregnancy? ›
During pregnancy, hormone changes can affect brain chemicals and cause depression and anxiety. Sometimes, pregnant women don't realize they are depressed. They may think they have symptoms of pregnancy or the “baby blues,” which many women experience right after birth.Can my baby feel all my emotions? ›
When you are pregnant, your baby is exposed to everything you experience. This includes the sounds in the environment, the air you breathe, the food you eat and the emotions you feel.Does arguing while pregnant affect baby? ›
Most recently, some studies are suggesting that stress in the womb can affect a baby's temperament and neurobehavioral development. Infants whose mothers experienced high levels of stress while pregnant, particularly in the first trimester, show signs of more depression and irritability.Do negative thoughts affect unborn baby? ›
A woman who experiences depression is also cause for concern. Newborns of mothers who were depressed during pregnancy are four times more likely to have a low birth weight than babies born to mothers who are not depressed.What husband should not do when wife is pregnant? ›
- Is it really required that I come to the doctor every time?
- Why are you so slow ?
- How will all this crying help?
- How can you forget to take medicines?
- You have to eat well for my baby.
- Don't worry, it's normal.
- Why can't you just snap out of this mood?
They can feel pain at 22 weeks, and at 26 weeks they can move in response to a hand being rubbed on the mother's belly.How do I bond with my unborn baby? ›
- Your voice. From around 18 weeks, your baby can already hear sounds. ...
- Songs and music. Singing songs or playing calm music can soothe your baby.
- Movement. Feeling your baby move for the first time can be very special. ...
- Touch. Touching and stroking your bump helps you to bond. ...
- Listen to their heartbeat.
When you feel happy and calm, it allows your baby to develop in a happy, calm environment. However, emotions like stress and anxiety can increase particular hormones in your body, which can affect your baby's developing body and brain.How bad can pregnancy mood swings get? ›
Mood swings that happen during pregnancy are a lot like the mood swings that many women experience before their periods. You might feel happy one minute and sad, angry or anxious the next; or maybe you find yourself having bigger feelings over things that don't usually make you all that emotional.
Most recently, some studies are suggesting that stress in the womb can affect a baby's temperament and neurobehavioral development. Infants whose mothers experienced high levels of stress while pregnant, particularly in the first trimester, show signs of more depression and irritability.Why am I so moody pregnant? ›
Some women are especially sensitive to changes in progesterone, which can cause an increase in emotional instability. Your moods can change all throughout pregnancy and may find yourself becoming irritable, moody, and tearful.Is it hard to control emotions pregnant? ›
Apart from sickness and tiredness, it's common to have mood swings and feel tearful or easily irritated (Society for Endocrinology, 2018). Once the body has adapted to the higher levels of these hormones, the symptoms usually wear off. However, some women will experience them throughout their pregnancy.