In the 2007 movie Knocked Up, one character says to another (pregnant) character, “You know what, I know this isn’t you talking, it’s your hormones, but I would just like to say …” and then he goes on to tell her hormones exactly what he thinks of them … in very colorful language. While the scene is over-the-top excessive, it underlines the fact that, during pregnancy, women experience a variety of emotions, not all of them strictly rational. It’s not surprising, given the multitude of changes our bodies are going through and our soaring hormone levels. Whether you’re currently trying to get pregnant, pregnant, or simply love someone who’s pregnant, read on for a trimester-by-trimester guide to pregnancy emotions.
When you find out you’re pregnant, you go through a wide range of emotions, from shock to elation to terror to excitement. Even the most-desired pregnancy brings with it a certain amount of emotional stress: will I be a good mother? Is this the right decision? How will we make it work? What are we going to name him/her?! You are likely to feel premenstrual, not only with the crampiness and tender breasts, but also with bouts of weepiness, sensitivity, and irritability. If you’ve had to make lifestyle changes – like eliminating caffeine – you may be experiencing further emotional stress.
To cope with these occasionally-overwhelming feelings, confide in your partner, get plenty of rest (growing another human is a lot of hard work!), and eat a healthy diet along with taking a prenatal vitamin. Getting regular exercise, getting a little bit of sunshine daily, and taking time to pamper yourself are all great stress-busters that can help you iron out the emotional wrinkles of the first trimester.
Many of the fears of the first trimester – miscarriage, coping, major life changes – have passed and this trimester you may feel like you’re on cruise control. Your morning sickness may have eased up dramatically, you have your energy back, and you are absolutely glowing. If you haven’t already, you’ll start to “show” during this trimester. While you’ll still occasionally have bouts of moodiness, for the most part, you feel really good!
Take advantage of this time period and start looking into birthing classes and preparing to bring home your soon-to-be baby. Your hormones are still spiking, and you may feel more or less sexual. Explore your heightened sexuality with your spouse, or talk with him about your lack of desire and discover new ways of connecting intimately with him.
You are entering the final stretch of your pregnancy, and your emotions are probably going to follow your physical changes. Your body may feel strange to you – you may lose your balance easily, feel unwieldy, and have difficulty getting comfortable at night. These are all normal parts of pregnancy, but they may leave you feeling frustrated. Keep in mind that this is all temporary, and soon you’ll be holding your new baby in your arms and it will all have been worth it. If possible, line up a pregnancy massage, schedule some one-on-one time with your partner, and take some time for yourself.
You’ll also likely be experiencing some anxiety about your impending birth experience, but educating yourself about the upcoming events and making plans (and backup plans) can help you conquer these feelings. This is the trimester you’ll really want to start preparing for your birth: make a birth plan but keep it flexible, line up help for your homecoming, and simply rest up for the big event. Toward the very end, you may have a burst of energy, “nesting,” but try to keep it at a minimum and conserve your energy for labor.
While mood swings and varied emotions are common and certainly normal and expected during pregnancy, if you feel you are experiencing anything out of the ordinary, do not hesitate to call your health care provider. According to www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy health, increased irritability, interrupted sleep, changes in eating patterns, inability to concentrate, memory loss, or depression lasting longer than two weeks are all signs that you should contact your HCP immediately. Severe mood swings and depression are treatable, even during pregnancy, and help is available.