advice

keeping sane:
the hormonal rollercoaster of pregnancy


coping with pregnancy mood swings

Pregnancy can be a real rollercoaster ride of the emotions - highs and lows and everything in between. Some women appear to 'bloom'[1] during pregnancy; they appear full of life, happiness and vitality whereas other women are tearful and apprehensive.


intense feelings

Feelings can often be very intense, being forewarned about them can help women and their partners to understand what is going on, and how to deal with them if they need to.


Some women have unstable moods and feelings of depression, often for no apparent reason. None of these emotional responses is 'right' or 'wrong'. Pregnancy is an intense experience; you'll experience huge hormonal changes and face a big life-changing event.


Even before conception there may be concerns and anxieties. Perhaps pregnancy is taking longer to happen than expected. Then there are natural concerns about the big changes a baby brings to a couple, their relationship with each other, and to their work, family and social lives. Worries about the timing of the pregnancy, and about possible financial stresses in the future are common. There may also be concerns about carrying the pregnancy to the full nine months, especially if you have had a previous miscarriage, or if there is a family history of miscarriages.


When pregnancy occurs the overwhelming emotion for many couples is excitement as they wait for the arrival of their baby. There may be an element of surprise, even if the pregnancy has been carefully planned. Often mixed with these feelings there will be doubts and apprehension about the big change about to happen in your lives. The unknown direction that a new life takes is both thrilling and scary for new parents. The pregnancy may not feel 'real' at first. But it will gradually become more and more real, perhaps most dramatically when the baby's heartbeat can be heard at your check up around week 12.

how your hormones affect you in pregnancy

One of the main causes of mood swings[3] that many women experience in pregnancy is the huge hormonal upheaval[2] that takes place in their bodies. It is thought that the hormones progesterone and oestrogen play a large part in mood swings and they tend to happen most frequently in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.


managing your mood swings


There are a plethora of things you can that may make your mood swings more manageable:


  • talk it through with those closest to you
  • ask for practical help from family and friends
  • get plenty of rest
  • make time for fun and pampering
  • chat openly with your partner
  • don't feel guilty and be kind to yourself

  • Later on in pregnancy, between about 3 and 6 months, the extreme swings of mood usually decline as the levels of hormones become more constant. This tends to be the quieter period, emotionally. You may experience the 'glow' of pregnancy, feel better and have more energy.


    The risk of miscarriage is much lower during this stage of pregnancy and many women experience a high when they begin to feel their baby move - usually at about week 20. You may start to feel even more excited about the pregnancy as you begin to perceive the unborn baby as a separate individual within. The excitement may show itself in terms of asking family and friends lots of questions about pregnancy and childbirth, by reading books and websites.

    talking through the effects of your pregnancy hormones

    Pregnancy is an emotional time for you and your partner. The golden rule is to talk about how you are feeling; voicing worries, concerns and anxieties often goes a long way to relieving them. Also try chatting to other mums-to-be in your antenatal classes, knowing that other women are also finding that they are 'hormonal' and by talking through each others struggles will help you and them to cope.


    Take time for you and your partner to relax together and enjoy this wonderful, intimate and very exciting time.


    References


    [1]. What do people mean by blooming? Baby Centre, [Accessed May 2019]

    [2]. Pregnancy Hormones, NCT, July 2018

    [3]. Mood swings in pregnancy, Baby Centre, [Accessed May 2019]