Mood swings in pregnancy

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“Why don’t I feel as happy as I am supposed to feel?”

Many expecting moms ask me at my prenatal classes.

“I hate myself for being so grumpy and grouchy all the time – but I just can’t help it.”

They tell me.

These women are going through mood swings – which are common during pregnancy.

But because they have been led to believe that pregnancy is a time of feeling calm and happy – they hate themselves for the bad moods they experience when they have mood swings.

What causes mood swings during pregnancy?

  • Hormones

Surging and fluctuating oestrogen and progesterone levels cause anxiety and irritability coupled with fatigue and sadness.

  • Morning sickness

Many women experience nausea and vomiting for several months. And this can ruin their mood because they are worried about when they may throw up.

Click here for tips on dealing with morning sickness.

  • Constipation

It is difficult to feel happy and chirpy without moving the bowels adequately in the morning.

Click here for tips on coping with constipation.

  • Worry about complications.

The internet is full of terrible things that can happen during pregnancy which can cause a lot of anxiety.

  • Sleeplessness
  • Many women cannot sleep during pregnancy, and this makes them irritable through the day.

     Click here for tips on dealing with sleeplessness.

How to cope with mood swings during pregnancy?

  • Rest – Rest when you are tired. Do not push yourself.
  • Be kind to yourself – Do not beat yourself up over not looking or feeling good.
  • Communicate – Try and explain to your spouse (and other family members) – what exactly you are going through and how the hormones and not you – are to blame for your erratic behaviour. Explain your needs calmly. Having a supportive spouse on your side can really help when you are in the grip of a crazy mood swing.
  • Sleep – Prioritize sleep. Follow a bedtime routine and use pillows to prop yourself to avoid waking up because of discomfort.
  • Take a prenatal class – Instead of browsing the web and finding information that can cause intense worry – attend a prenatal class to understand what you can stop worrying about.
  • Eat small frequent healthy meals – Fluctuating blood sugar levels can make mood swings worse. Avoid sweets and junk food. Eat healthy foods – rich in complex carbohydrates and proteins in 8 small meals through the day.
  • Avoid tea and coffee – Caffeine increases anxiety.
  • Exercise – A short stroll in fresh air twice a day can have a major stabilising effect on your mood.
  • Eat healthy fats – Fats have a mood elevating effect so never make the mistake of going on a fat free diet. Add a little bit of ghee to your meals. Sprinkle grated coconut on your dishes. And so on.
  • Talk to a friend – Share your worries with a sympathetic friend or relative every day for a few minutes. A heart-to-heart conversation can instantly elevate your mood.

While mood swings are to be expected during pregnancy, stay vigilant for blatant attacks of depression. If you feel you are depressed – visit your doctor and get medical help.

By

Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD

Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD is a practicing doctor, a parenting consultant, and the founder of WPA whatparentsask.com She conducts online and offline workshops on parenting for schools and corporate organisations. She also conducts online and offline prenatal and infant care classes. She is a well-known thought-leader in parenting and an expert on play and learning. Her books on parenting are published by Juggernaut Books and she is frequently quoted in national and international publications of repute. She is renowned for her empathetic and compassionate approach to parenting and her application of physiology and brain science to parenting.

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