Coping with Mood Swings

Pregnancy is a rollercoaster of hormones and emotions! Be sure you've got a good support system and don't be afraid to ask others for help.

Giggly, tearful, frightened, furious -- during pregnancy most women experience mood swings. You can pin some of the blame for your seesawing emotions on hormonal surges, especially during this 1st trimester. However, there's much more to these wild fluctuations than revved-up body chemistry. Having a baby -- whether it's your first or not -- is a momentous life change. You may be stressed about finances, anxious about your baby's health, or terrified about childbirth. Besides, how can anyone expect you to be sweet, stable, and sensible when you can't get out of bed without vomiting, your clothes don't fit right, and you're too exhausted to cook a decent meal?

Mood swings are likely to dissipate after your 1st trimester, when your hormones settle down, your energy returns, and you become more adjusted to the idea of being pregnant. Meanwhile, choose one of your calm spells to have a conversation with your partner. Explain that your emotions sometimes take you by storm and apologize in advance for any hurtful things you might say or do when that happens. Let your partner know how best to support you when you're being steamrolled by a black mood. Sharing your moods will help you see things more clearly and objectively. Whether you're worrying about childbirth, breastfeeding, or daycare, ask other parents how they've coped. It helps to hear that others have gone through (and survived) what you're experiencing.

Finally, do whatever you can to rest and relax because stress can make pregnancy and delivery even harder. Take deep breaths when you're feeling angry or upset. Inhale deeply through your nose and count to five; then slowly exhale through your mouth as you count back down to one. Imagine a wave of warm water washing over you as you breathe in and washing your worries away as you breathe out. Splashing cold water on your face, blasting the air conditioner in your car, or opening a window for fresh air may help too. The cold temperature can momentarily wake up your system and allow you to look at things from a different perspective. So can a change of scenery. Step out onto the front steps or duck into the bathroom for a few minutes while you calm yourself down.

Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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