Pregnancy is not always a time of that wonderful glow and delicately round belly bump. It can be a time of extreme mood swings that make you want to run away from even yourself, and it makes your family willing to pack your bags. The hormones that are surging through your body during pregnancy can make you feel energized, depressed, anxious, or more prone to overreactions. If you are struggling with pregnancy mood swings and they are disrupting your family environment, there are some tips and strategies you can use to decrease the severity of the symptoms and improve your overall mental and emotional health.
My temperament is hard on my family and me. How can I deal with my mood swings?
If you are feeling the added stress of hormone induced stress, on top of the anxiety you might be feeling about bringing home a new baby, you don’t have to simply suffer in silence. Your first step should be to talk with your healthcare provider about your symptoms and how they are affecting your life, but there are other things you can also try to lessen the severity of prenatal mood swings.
Make a list of priorities. Sometimes the most stressful part of pregnancy is the overwhelming feeling of all the things that you want to finish before your due date. Pregnancy hormones can tip these anxious feelings over the edge. Listing your priorities on paper can help you focus on those things that really need to be completed and then you can work your way down the list.
Make your partner your teammate. Let your partner know that the pregnancy is creating havoc on your emotions and that you need some help managing the stressors in your life. Instead of becoming opponents in the battle of the mood swings, offer concrete suggestions that might really help you feel less anxiety – taking out the garbage, helping to find a car seat, or taking evening walks with you. Don’t forget to show him how much you appreciate him during this time, too, as he is preparing for his own new future as well.
Exercise. You might be tired of hearing it, but getting regular exercise can truly help to manage those emotions naturally, and exercise is good for your overall health, too. Even a 20 minute brisk walk can release those “feel good” hormones of dopamine and serotonin that boost positive mental energy.
Give yourself a break. Pencil yourself in on the calendar for an hour each week (or more if possible) of something that is pure enjoyment for you. This might be an hour at the spa, a book club meeting, a pregnancy yoga class, or something else that makes you feel good about yourself and gives you perspective and time to relax.
If you’ve tried these methods and others to reduce your stress and alleviate the symptoms of mood swings and you are still struggling, be sure to keep talking with your healthcare provider. It is estimated that as many as 10% of pregnant women suffer with depression, but there are treatment options available. Pregnancy isn’t always smooth sailing, but it can really help to find those little life rafts along the way.