Mood Swings During Pregnancy
Mood swing, a common phenomenon when pregnant, is characterized by a sudden, and unaccountable change in your mood, making you laugh at one moment and cry unnecessary at the next. It is important for you, as well as your kith and kin, to handle such unpredictable fluctuation of the mind patiently to ensure a smooth sailing pregnancy.
Are mood swings an early sign of pregnancy
The change in mood patterns is counted among the early symptom of pregnancy [6,15].
When do mood swings start
Though the span and intensity of mood swings vary from one to another, it usually starts during the first trimester, stabilizes in the second trimester and again flares up in the third [1,2,10].
What causes mood swings
First trimester: The estrogen and progesterone levels that work upon the fetal development and uterus respectively are high in the initial 6 to 10 weeks [1, 8, 16]. They affect the neurotransmitters or the chemical messengers of the brain that control your mood, hence having a direct impact on your state of mind [1,6].
Second trimester: As you step into the second trimester, the intensity of the hormones mellow down, thus making you feel a little relaxed .
Third trimester: The nesting hormone, oxytocin, and the mothering hormone, prolactin is released at an increased level in the third trimester as your body is preparing for childbirth, affecting your emotional state of being, heightening your urge to be more orderly or finicky about everything around you [1,8,18].
As the body is undergoing a lot of changes, common symptoms like heartburn, fatigue and frequent urination may make you feel overburdened and irritable [1, 2].
Feeling of insecurity
Several thoughts like managing finances, the well-being of your to-be-born baby, doubts about your parenting ability and the changing relation with your partner may keep you worried, also making you feel upset and jittery .
As some old wives’ tales suggest, mood swings are indicative of a girl-in-waiting. However, it is just a myth as these stories usually are .
How to deal with mood swings when pregnant
Sleep well: A proper night’s sleep, particularly during the first and third trimester, is challenging. Still, try to get as much rest as possible as sleep is essential to feel relaxed and energized [1,11,12].
Be happy: Pamper yourself to the utmost by going out on a movie date with friends, shopping, or doing something creative that makes you happy .
Exercise regularly: Since a fit body leads to a happy mind, make sure you follow an exercise regime like a short walk or even light workouts that suit your body.
Enjoy a treat: Nibble on lip-smacking yet healthy mood boosters, like cheese sticks, soy milkshake and homemade trail mix in between your meals to satisfy your food cravings as well as get emotionally charged. However, overeating may adversely affect your health .
Speak your mind: Share your inhibitions and fear with someone close to you. Keep your partner in the loop of all that you are thinking, also listen patiently to his viewpoints [1,2]. You can even join online forums to share your crazy pregnancy stories and dilemma with like-minded women who are on the same page as you .
Stress management techniques: Join yoga or meditation classes to keep your mind calm. And if all of this fails, seek a professional’s advice .
When to see a doctor
Though it is normal to feel low or down at times when pregnant, if you have severe mood swings that last for over two weeks at a stretch, consult your doctor immediately as it might indicate depression. Other symptoms along with mental unrest include endless bouts of anxiety, irregular food, and sleeping habits, inability to concentrate and an inclination to self-harm [1,2]. Refrain from taking any mood stabilizers unless your doctor suggests it .
If a woman already has an underlying psychological condition, like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, at the time of conception, special supervision is needed to prevent any unpleasant occurrences .
What can husbands do to help
- Be patient rather than refuting and taking her angry outbursts personally, as it is the changing hormones that make her act so differently .
- If she is upset, depressed or resorts to crying inconsolably, comfort her and do something special to help her feel better like playing her favorite song or entertaining her with any amusing story.
- Take small initiatives like making a delicious snack, helping with her daily chores, taking a walk together post dinner or even planning a short vacation if she can travel .