Mood Swings During Pregnancy

You may be excited about being pregnant but you can also be stressed or overwhelmed. You may have constant worries that contribute to your mood swings, such as: Will I be a good parent? How am I going to manage financially? Will my baby be healthy? Am I doing the right things to prepare for my baby? Pregnancy is a life-changing event full of physical and emotional changes. Understanding these changes will help you have a positive experience.

What causes mood swings during pregnancy?

Mood changes during pregnancy can be caused by physical stresses, fatigue, changes in your metabolism or by the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Significant changes in your hormone levels can affect your level of neurotransmitters, which are brain chemicals that regulate mood. Mood swings are mostly experienced during the first trimester between 6 to 10 weeks and then again in the third trimester as your body prepares for birth.

What should I do about my mood swings?

It is important to understand you are not alone; mood swings are just another aspect of the pregnancy experience. Knowing that what you are experiencing is normal and somewhat expected may help you cope. The following list includes ways to manage your stress level:

  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Take a break during the day to relax
  • Get regular physical activity
  • Eat well
  • Spend time with your partner
  • Take a nap
  • Go for a walk
  • See a movie with a friend
  • Don't be so hard on yourself
  • Try pregnancy yoga class or meditation
  • Get a massage

When should I seek professional help?

If your mood swings last more than two weeks and do not seem to get better, you may want to ask your health care provider for a referral to a counselor. More than 11 million American women are affected by depression each year. Depression is most prevalent in women during childbearing years but can occur at any age.

Some symptoms of depression include:

  • Recurrent anxiety and increased irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Changing in eating habits
  • Inability to concentrate on anything for very long
  • Short-term memory loss

If your mood swings become more frequent and intense, it is crucial that you speak with your health care provider about options in dealing with severe mood swings, anxiety or depression.

Reprinted with permission from American Pregnancy Association