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Mood Swings During Pregnancy: How to Cope

Katlyn Joy |14, February 2012


While pregnant you may experience some mood shifts unseen before in your life. You may be smiling and feeling joyful one moment, then be consumed with fear and trickling tears the next. Or perhaps you go from serenity to ire. Whatever the progression, mood swings affect pregnant women and their loved ones at least for some time in most pregnancies.

The culprits include hormone fluctuations, fatigue and big changes looming in your life. The good news is that for most women, the big shifts are limited. Most women feel relatively calm and centered during the second trimester, with some mood swings coming back into the picture in the final weeks of pregnancy.

Here are some ways to build stability and keep your emotional equilibrium.

1. Drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and less than pleasant emotions. Aim for 8 glasses of water a day, but more when doing anything more physical or tiring, and on hot days.

2. Eat regularly. Low blood sugar will let your moods bottom out so snack frequently to head off those less than stellar moments. Don't go more than a few hours without eating something and preferably something healthy.

3. Avoid junk food and empty calories. Cookies and chips will not give your body and its increasing demands the good fuel it needs. A body that is dragging will definitely drag your moods down as well.

4. Rest, rest and rest. Growing a new life takes a lot out of a person so make certain your body gets the sleep it needs. Just because you've never been a napper doesn't mean you should expect not to need them now. Even if you can't nod off, take the time to put up feet up and chilling for a little bit during the day.

5. Give yourself a break. Don't expect to do all the same things the same way you did, non-pregnant. Give yourself permission to take it easy and skimp on the little stuff.

6. Keep a pregnancy journal. Sometimes the act of writing out your emotions can clarify things and help you to feel more balanced. Plus your baby will grow up someday and love reading those special memories.

7. Take time to reflect, relax and rest. Have a special time notched out of each day to meditate, stretch and enjoy quiet simple solitude. Create a spot for these serene moments. You may want to continue carving out those moments after baby arrives as well.

8. Take a walk. Walking is an ideal activity for expectant moms. The gentle activity helps keep her in shape and the change of view can help change a negative or stressed perspective.

9. Read a book. Or knit. Or play chess. Doing a simple activity that you enjoy will help boost those positive emotions. Or redirect the decidedly unpositive ones.

10. Focus on the goal. Take a moment and just allow yourself to focus on the new little life growing inside you. Contemplate the future you are hoping for and imagine the amazing moment you finally see your baby for the first time. Sometimes just taking a second to see the big picture will alleviate stress and build up a happy or content mood.

When to Talk to Your Doctor

For some women, the mood swings of pregnancy aren't just little shifts. For those women depression is the dominant emotion. It's important to know the baby blues from depression.

  • If your mood is persistently sad for 2 weeks or more, call your physician.
  • If you lose interest in normal activities and are withdrawing from relationships, you may be experiencing a serious depression.
  • If you feel bad more often than good, you are not just experiencing the blues.
  • If you don't want to get out of bed or experience negative thoughts including ones that may involve hurting yourself, you need to talk to a professional right away.

Pre-natal and postpartum depression may be set off by the wave of hormones or brought on by tremendous stress during life changes, and are serious. However, treatment for depression is available even for pregnant or breastfeeding moms. Help is readily available and no woman should suffer depression without appropriate care.

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