Mood swings and negative thoughts are common for everyone during pregnancy
During your pregnancy you might be happy that you enjoyed lunch without feeling nauseated. Then find yourself crying at a TV commercial. Then feeling anxious for no obvious reason. And all within the space of a half-hour. It’s enough to make you wonder, “Am I the only one who feels this way?”
No, you’re not the only one.
“Every pregnant woman experiences a dramatic rise in progesterone and estrogen,” explains OB/GYN Wilfredo A. Negron, MD. “The increase of these hormones is essential to gestation and the sustainability of the pregnancy. But receptors in the mind receive this chemical information in many different ways. A person may have negative thoughts if there are not enough of these hormones, but you can also have negative thoughts if your receptors are hyper-stimulated. And in pregnancy, you are dealing with a tsunami.”
The Perfect Couple
Dr. Negron tells his patients that anyone can be susceptible to mood shifts during pregnancy. Even a couple with perfect circumstances—strong family support, good friendships, financial resources and no history of mental illness—can be affected by the emotions that may result from hormonal changes. And every couple will have to manage the stress of the permanent change of parenthood.
“I don’t know of any life event which is permanent that doesn’t cause stress,” Dr. Negron says.
Moms-to-be may have nagging questions:
- Am I capable?
- What about my profession?
- Will the baby be healthy?
- How do other people perceive me?
The dads-to-be, on the other hand, may be unprepared to see their wife crying or behaving angrily for no apparent reason.
“The man says, “I don’t understand. I thought you’d be happy,’” Dr. Negron says. “These different expectations on each side make it more difficult for even the perfect couple to interact.”
Talking It Out
Despite the feelings of guilt or anger, this is actually the time when a couple also should seek, not avoid, discussion.
“Bonding as a couple is really important,” Dr. Negron says. “Talking it out is a good start. Explain what you are feeling. Communicate your expectations and concerns.”
Dr. Negron knows that women will also seek out advice from family members, friends, and even the internet. This works best when you ask the right questions. If you ask, “How was your pregnancy?” that can often be answered with a simple, “I had a healthy baby. It was good.” Dr. Negron has found that it is more beneficial to ask about feelings. Questions such as “How did you feel when your baby first kicked?” or “How did you feel starting the third trimester?” can help women gauge their own emotions.
Meanwhile, the fathers-to-be should try to remember not to focus on fixing anything.
One Step At A Time
This is not the engine of a 1958 Chevy,” Dr. Negron says. “You’re not going to go into someone’s brain and change their thoughts. Acknowledgment and support—that’s what you need to do.”
Dr. Negron advises his patients to continue their regular activities, within reason, to help themselves through emotional shifts.
“Take it one step at a time and try not to overdo or overthink things,” he says. “Also, remember to do things that give you pleasure.”
This could involve simple things such as going for a walk, catching a movie, taking a nap, or just spending time with your partner.
But if a woman continues to feel intense emotions—especially thoughts of hurting themselves or their newborn—she should talk with her doctor immediately.
“A woman may already understand the connection between hormonal changes and how they are feeling, but they can always come to me to make sure,” Dr. Negron says. “Talk it out and let’s make an assessment to see if hormones are the cause. But either way, don’t feel guilty or ashamed. Even the perfect couple with a healthy pregnancy will have to address these feelings. It’s okay.”
Telfair Baby App
Having a baby is both exciting and stressful. Having an informative resource at your fingertips can help expecting and new moms track their journey, find answers to questions, and plan, plan, plan.
The Telfair BirthPlace at St. Joseph’s/Candler offers a free Telfair Baby app for Apple and Android devices. This app is available to anyone, anywhere, and can provide access to a number of articles and videos on pregnancy care, labor and birth, breastfeeding and newborn care, in addition to numerous other features. You do not have to be a patient at the Telfair BirthPlace to use the free app. Find the App Store and Google Play links to download the app on our website at www.mytelfairdoc.com/BabyApp.