You’re Not Going Crazy: How To Cope With Pregnancy Mood Swings

For when you just can't control your emotions.

During pregnancy, it’s not uncommon to go from laughing to sobbing to forgetting what size shoe you wear in a matter of minutes.

It’s not that you’re going nuts. Though it can feel like you are or appear like that to others.

Such dramatic and often surprising mood swings are simply par for the pregnancy course. As you may have guessed, hormones are most definitely the biggest culprit.

Aside from the influx of raging hormones, you’re undergoing one of the biggest changes in your entire life.

Still, understanding what’s happening with your mood swings will help you to have a happier pregnancy. So, here’s the scoop, mama!

The Reactive First Trimester

woman upset and crying

For many women, feeling emotionally different is often the first sign of pregnancy. Perhaps you were caught off-guard when you got weepy-eyed at a commercial or found that you were more upset because someone ate the last cinnamon bagel.

Slightly “off” moments like these typically indicate that something is up in your body.  In your case, you were pregnant.

You’re More Than the Belly

Keep in mind that although you’re made up of different dimensions, you’re an all-encompassing being. Your mental, physical, and emotional parts are all interconnected. When one is off, your entire being is affected.

Unsurprisingly, pregnancy is a time when you come to understand this reality very well. And it all begins in the notorious first trimester.

According to most mothers, the first trimester really is the most disliked of the three. And for good reason, too. It’s what some women like to call the “initiation” trimester.

With the typical onset of morning sickness at week six and the swollen breasts right from the start, you’re probably not feeling in tip-top shape. Plus, the rapid increase in estrogen during this trimester has you experiencing a roller coaster of emotions.

Likened to Extreme Exhaustion

Even more than simply being weepy, you may experience the same emotions many do when they’re exhausted.

After all, pregnancy is one big marathon (for which you had no endurance training), so it’s only natural to feel super tired about 23.5 hours each day.

Some of the common mood swings are going from extreme highs to extreme lows. For example, you might feel absolutely giddy that you are having a baby.

You laugh and giggle in the kitchen while you make lunch for yourself only to realize that you’re out of cottage cheese. Instead of opting for yogurt, your mood takes an enormous nose dive.

Suddenly, you’re crying in front of the refrigerator and doubting whether you’ll be a good parenting on the sole premise that you let the cottage cheese run out.

In case you’re wondering, the above scenario was a real-life example borrowed from a cottage cheese-loving mother. And, she’s a completely sane mother of three.

You’re Off the Hook

It’s uncommon for mentally healthy, well-balanced people to experience such highs and lows. But, for pregnant women, it’s all in a day’s work of baby-growing. So, cut yourself a break.

The Unabashed Second Trimester

After rip-roaring or rather trudging through the first trimester, you’ll likely welcome the second trimester with open arms. Despite the horrible reputation of the first trimester, the really annoying symptoms typically end when the second trimester begins.

And when you kiss goodbye to difficult physical symptoms like nausea and extreme fatigue, you often change your demeanor altogether.

Best Out of Three

The second trimester is well-known for being most women’s favorite. Not only do you feel better, but you also start to look comfortably pregnant and seem to talk about your pregnancy with everyone. It’s a really exciting time for most expecting mothers.

While this trimester is typically more gentle on your body, it’s also frequently much kinder on your emotions. As your hormones fluctuate less and less, you may find it easier to maintain a balanced mood.

But the moods swings don’t go away for good. You will likely still feel some ups and downs. Although you can blame this on hormones to some extent, there are various reasons for your emotional roller coaster ride.

Deep Runs the Emotional Well

Starting at about the 14th weeks, many women begin to embrace their new pregnant identity. During this trimester, you will feel your baby move for the first time and should you choose to learn the gender, that will happen this trimester, as well.

More than anything, it all starts to get a little more real.

So, your mood swings tend to feel less “cottage cheese” dramatic and more in-depth, per se. It’s now that you’ll begin to make those big life changes like buying a bigger vehicle, moving to a child-friendly neighborhood, or even embark on a career change. Remember that along with these big changes come big emotions, so go easy on yourself as you experience them.

Also, you’ll be styling a more voluptuous body and perhaps even feeling a bit sexier nowadays, too.

You’re On an Exploration

Drawing from the deep emotional well of the second trimester is a lot like exploring your internal workings. If you allow it, this can be a great time to get to know yourself and your partner better than you ever have before. Take advantage of this tie and ride the emotional wave.

The End-of-the-Tunnel Third Trimester

pregnant woman with mood swing

The closer you get to your due date the more emotionally ready you become. It’s simply the natural progression of things. While the second trimester may have felt blissful and euphoric, the third trimester is often bathed in sassy cartoon-like emotions.

If you’re like most women, you’ve probably heard more than one third trimester mom say how ready they were for their baby to be out. You’ll get there, too.

Large and In Charge

When you end your second trimester, it’s also the end of a few natural comforts, too.

Although your belly has been growing from day one of pregnancy, it could very well have gotten to the point of discomfort. The struggle is real when it comes to a big baby belly.

During the third trimester is when you may experience really uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms like swelling in your hands and feet, backaches, or even sore breasts. You may also be feeling short of breath, worn out, and overwhelmed.

What does all this mean in terms of your mood swings?

For most women, it means that you’re uber cranky. You might find that you have no inhibitions or that you lash out at your partner, co-workers, or complete strangers. Most mothers look back on their third trimester and don’t recall being as cranky as they truly were, but that’s also where the sassy cartoon-like emotions come into play. Everyone jumps to make the queen mama bee happy.

Mother Hen Begins to Nest

If you haven’t rearranged your cabinets or alphabetized your cleaning supplies, don’t be surprised when you get the urge. Ah, nesting.

For some, this nesting impulse comes at the perfect time. You’ve been struggling with the temptation to rip everyone’s head off, but are now only concerned with tidying and organizing. It’s a win/win situation for all involved.

Nesting is likely nature’s way of letting you take back some control in your life. For the past several months, you’ve surrendered your body to another human being. It may feel like you don’t have much control over anything, but nesting sort of gives you back the reins. Even if it’s only for a short while.

As well as being a sassy queen bee, you are probably going to revisit a few of those weepy first trimester moments. Mostly, you’re simply tired. And when humans are tired, they break down in their emotions. Remember that it’s perfectly okay.

Just Bask, Mama

pregnant woman meditating

You’ve probably come to realize that your endless to-do list will forever remain endless. The best part about that realization is that you’re totally cool with it.

More than anything, you’re so over this business of being pregnant and are beyond ready to hold your baby. Take some time to bask in the calm before the storm aka midnight feedings and diaper changes.

Nothing Is Set In Stone

Keep in mind that your own unique life situation will greatly influence the ebb and flow of your pregnancy mood swings.

Perhaps you’re going through pregnancy without the support of an intimate partner. No matter the reason why your partner isn’t around, that could significantly change the way you react to certain situations.

It could also be that your partner isn’t emotionally available to you. Many women with partners who are struggling with addiction or are simply not ready to be a parent tend to feel alone during pregnancy.

And further still, perhaps this pregnancy was more of an unwanted surprise than a planned delight. Life is funny that way and it offers twists and turns that are difficult to understand.

Remember that even in the middle of a complex situation, your emotions are going to fall and rise due to the hormones in your system. Hormones are annoying like that.

The takeaway message is that your pregnancy is unique to your situation. The best approach is simply to acknowledge the emotions you feel and to accept yourself for feeling them. Know that this too shall pass.

Tips to Cope

  • Practice Acceptance – The best approach to wild and crazy pregnancy hormones is simply to accept them for what they are – reserved for pregnancy. Normalize them rather than fight them off. Understand that crying over cottage cheese is okay at this point in your life. Simply let it come and then move on to the next wave. You’ll be an expert “emotional surfer” by the time birth rolls around.
  • You’re A Concoction –  Embrace the complicated relationship between hormones and your emotions. Many people, especially our male counterparts, fail to realize the direct impact bodily chemicals have on emotions. And vice versa, our emotions affect the chemicals in our body, too. Your pregnant self is essentially a walking, talking concoction of new chemicals and new emotions.
  • Be Straightforward – Because pregnancy mood swings will probably have you feeling unlike yourself, keep others in the loop. Your mood will undoubtedly impact the lives of those around you, so be honest with them about what’s going on. Something as simple as letting them know that you are feeling off-kilter on the inside or telling them how much you appreciate their support will do the trick.
  • Take Care of Yourself First – This may come across as a selfish pursuit, but know that a weary and worn out mom or mom-to-be is typically one on the edge. Also, your health and the health of your baby largely depends on your self-care routine, so don’t put yourself on the back burner. Rather, pay close attention to how you feel and how you can feel better.
  • Get the Help You Need – If you find yourself struggling to cope with everyday life then it’s time to get help. You have just as much the right to enjoy pregnant as you have the right to enjoy life. Help might come in the form of a mother’s group, friendly confidant, or even through the helpful advice of a therapist. Be kind to yourself and take the necessary steps to help you manage the often overwhelming ups and downs of pregnancy mood swings.
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