Feeling Emotional During Pregnancy? Causes, Support, and Advice
Getting emotional during pregnancy is a common symptom. But knowing that it’s a normal symptom doesn’t make it any easier when it’s happening to you. Do you know the difference between an emotional day and actual prenatal depression? And do you know where to seek support for your emotional health during pregnancy? Read on for answers to the nine most commonly asked questions about emotional stress during pregnancy.
1. Is it Normal to be Emotional During Pregnancy?
Yes. Most women experience strong mood swings in the first trimester of pregnancy. One moment you’re deliriously happy and the next you’re sobbing into the cutlery drawer because your husband has put the forks away backward. Or perhaps you feel angry out of all proportion about things that wouldn’t usually bother you at all? You are not losing your mind. Being emotional and having mood swings is a very normal symptom of early pregnancy.
Being emotional is not confined to the first trimester, either. Some women continue to struggle with emotional changes throughout the second and third trimesters. Often, this presents as very low energy days and a blue mood. As long as this feeling does not go on for days on end and you’re still able to get on with your normal life, there is no great concern. Try and roll with the emotions, keep things in perspective, and communicate openly with those who love you.
2. What Causes Emotional Changes During Pregnancy?
The last thing you want anyone to say is, “It’s just your pregnancy hormones making you emotional.” But it’s actually true. The hormones that course through your body and help to grow your baby are the most likely cause of your mood swings and emotionalism. People who are prone to emotional stress during their period are more likely to experience it during pregnancy – it can feel like a nine-month bout of PMT!
In the early months of pregnancy, your levels of the estrogen and progesterone hormones are building dramatically. Hormones send the messages which control everything in your body, including your emotions. Many women are very sensitive to the hormonal changes in their bodies and this explains the emotional roller coaster that many of us experience during pregnancy. Progesterone tends to cause irritability, while estrogen is the likely culprit when it comes to unexplained tearfulness.
3. Where Can I get Emotional Support During Pregnancy?
Anyone that loves you should be able to offer you the emotional support you need. The first step is simply to reach out and open the lines of communication. Get on the phone and discuss your emotions with your Mom, your sister, or your best friend. Your midwife should also be able to offer practical advice to cope with the changes.
The most important thing is that you speak to your partner about the feelings you’re experiencing (preferably in a moment of calm). The emotional stress you are under can also put your relationship under pressure if you do not communicate about it. Your mood tears and irritability can have almost as big an effect on your partner as they have on you. The woman he loves is suddenly unpredictable, he may be walking on eggshells, and he’s unsure what to do. Share the facts about hormones with him and try to take a breath before you snap – you don’t want this pregnancy symptom to destroy your relationship.
4. Can Emotional Stress During Pregnancy Effect on Baby?
As long as low moods do not go on for a prolonged period, you are still looking after your body, and you do not harm yourself, ordinary emotional stress during pregnancy will not harm your unborn baby.
5. When do You get Emotional During Pregnancy?
It’s most common to get emotional during early pregnancy. Most women find that the strongest emotional changes occur between weeks six and ten of pregnancy when the biggest changes in estrogen and progesterone happen. But, just like all other pregnancy symptoms, every woman reacts differently to the changes in her body. You may find that you feel very emotional in the first trimester, calmly content in the second and that the emotional swings return in the final trimester. Or you may find that your emotional levels are fairly stable throughout your pregnancy. As we said, every woman is different.
6. What if I Suffer an Emotional Trauma During Pregnancy?
Life doesn’t stop when you’re pregnant. There may still be external traumas in your life. You may even lose someone you love. And, if you’re already in an unstable emotional state, it can be particularly hard to bear. Our advice, as always, is to seek advice from those who love you. Your grief in times of emotional trauma is real but the hormonal edge that pregnancy adds to it is not. It’s really hard but you need to keep things in perspective.
7. What are the Effects of Emotional Stress During Pregnancy?
Emotional stress can affect every area of your life. While the stress itself will not harm your baby, it can affect your life in ways that could affect the baby. Emotional stress can affect sleep patterns, eating habits, and exercise levels. The emotional swings should be short and easy to recover from, in which case they won’t affect you in these ways. But, if you find that it is affecting your sleep or your appetite, you should reach out and seek help.
8. What’s the Difference Between Being Very Emotional During Pregnancy and Actual Prenatal Depression?
Being overly emotional during pregnancy is a normal symptom. But prenatal depression is a very risky condition to be in. If you have any of the following warning signs of prenatal depression, you should seek help from your professionals:
- Your ‘blue days’ last all day, day after day.
- You find that your appetite is affected – you are off your food, or binge-eating unhealthy food.
- You are unable to sleep or unable to get out of bed and get on with your day.
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
- Panic attacks.
9. How to Deal With Emotional Stress During Pregnancy?
You can deal with the emotional stress of pregnancy in much the same way you do with any other stress. Here are a few simple strategies you can try:
- Get out in the fresh air and get some exercise – the endorphins will help to balance the hormones causing you to be emotional.
- Before you snap, breathe deeply and count to twenty. It’s amazing how quickly that something that felt so important can come back into perspective.
- Take time out to relax – a warm bubble bath, a picnic beside a waterfall, half an hour on the beach – whatever makes you feel best.
- Make sure you’re getting enough sleep – it’s amazing how much worse things can seem when you’re tired.
10. What do I do if I Have No Emotional Support During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy can feel like a very isolated time. Especially if you don’t have a partner and are going it alone or you’re living in a different state or country from your family. But you are not really alone. The most important thing is to reach out and find the support you need. Here are a few channels you could try:
- Online forums (like ours!).
- Support groups through your local pregnancy center.
- Your midwife or obstetrician.
- Other women with children from your work or gym.
Whoever you decide to talk to, it’s important to talk to someone. Bottled up emotions and anxiety can lead to more serious emotional health problems.
Do You have a Question about Being Emotional During Pregnancy that We Haven’t Answered?
If you have a question or concern about emotional feelings during pregnancy, please feel free to reach out on our site. We love hearing from our readers and always try to reply as quickly and accurately as possible. Please post your question in the comments section below or send us a private message through our contact us page.
More Articles about Your Pregnancy Well-being:
Pregnancy is a busy time. And it’s not only those pesky hormones that cause stress and anxiety. You are experiencing immense physical changes at the same time as trying to get on with your day-to-day life as well as preparing to be a parent. How much time out are you taking for yourself? Check out our ten top tips for pregnancy relaxation.
If your mood swings feel like they’re taking over your life or destroying your relationship, pregnancy yoga could help to provide you with some peace of mind and a space to relax. Find out more about the benefits of yoga and meditation during pregnancy here.
Some women who find the physical and emotional changes during pregnancy particularly difficult also develop postpartum depression, which is why it’s so important to open lines of communication and support early on. Find out more about the causes, warning signs, and treatment of postpartum depression here.