Pregnancy Mood Swings: 9 Powerful Remedies
Are you loving life one moment and irritated by everyone and everything the next? If so, you’re probably suffering from pregnancy mood swings.
Although frustrating, mood swings affect most women at some point during their pregnancy journey. While there’s no magic pill to make them go away, there are a few tips you can use to make your mood more stable.
What Causes Pregnancy Mood Swings?
Mood swings are a common pregnancy symptom but luckily, they usually don’t last your entire journey. When do mood swings start in pregnancy? Mood swings usually start in the first trimester and are experienced between 6 and 10 weeks. They may reappear in the third trimester as you get ready for birth.
Pregnancy mood swings can be caused by a couple different things:
- Fatigue— During pregnancy, you’ll notice that you become more tired easier. It also doesn’t help that you have a harder time going to and staying asleep because of your baby belly. The lack of sleep and energy can affect your mood.
- Hormonal changes— Your estrogen and progesterone and other hormone levels change throughout pregnancy, which can affect your neurotransmitters and change how you feel.
- Stress— Pregnancy adds another layer of stress to your life. Constantly worrying if your baby is okay or if you’ll be a good parent can put a damper on your mood. One moment you may feel ecstatic to be having a baby, while the next you may feel depressed and unprepared. This is normal. Even if your baby was planned, you will probably still feel nervous about the future because your life is changing.
Each woman’s body is different. Some expecting mothers won’t be as affected by pregnancy changes, while others may feel a range of positive and negative emotions.
Pregnancy Mood Swing Remedies
It may not be possible to completely rid yourself of pregnancy mood swings, but here are a few ideas that can help boost your mood.
Nurture Yourself: With a baby on the way, you may feel the need to reorganize your house, prepare the baby room and get ahead at work. However, this is the time you should be winding down instead of speeding up. Allowing yourself to relax can do wonders for your mood. Try to remind yourself that by nurturing yourself, you’re also nurturing your baby. It’s not selfish; it’s also beneficial for your baby. Make time for your favorite hobby, whether it’s painting, reading or baking. Pamper yourself with baths, prenatal massages or by getting your nails done. Relaxing a little bit each day will help elevate your mood and make you more effective when you do decide to tackle your to-do list.
Another part of nurturing yourself is to stop being hard on yourself. If you don’t completely finish your to-do list or you find yourself slacking off a bit around the house, remind yourself that you’re pregnant. Your body is busy developing a baby, so it’s okay if you have fewer resources for other tasks.
Spend Time with Your Partner: If you find yourself getting angry or irritated at your partner due to your mood swings, communicating with him will be essential to maintaining a healthy relationship. Tell him how you’re feeling, reassure him that you love him and stress the importance of his understanding and patience during this time.
Doing special activities together may also decrease your mood swings and strengthen your bond. Try exploring a different part of town or going on a mini overnight vacation to a city an hour away.
If you’re single, spend time with your support network of family and friends. If you don’t have a support network, attend a birthing or mother class to meet other women. Having people who understand you during this time will make you stress less and likely decrease your mood swings.
Talk About It: If you think your negative mood swings are coming from stress and worries about parenting, talk to your family and friends. Open up to your most caring and supportive friend. Try talking to your own mom or other moms in your family. Since they’ve been through pregnancy, they may be able to empathize and give you advice. Remember that your partner is also anticipating a big life change and can relate, so share your concerns with him, too.
You may also find it helpful to share and work through your feelings in a journal.
Get Sleep: Fatigue can cause mood swings, so getting rest can help improve how you feel. Adults should get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night; however, pregnant women often need a few more hours or naps throughout the day. If you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep because you’re uncomfortable, purchase a pregnancy pillow. For other tips on sleeping while expecting, read our Ultimate Guide for Pregnancy Sleep.
Exercise: Exercise pumps the feel-good endorphins into your body, helping to reduce your stress levels and increase happiness. If you don’t want to go to the gym, that’s okay. Even a brisk walk, swim or at-home aerobic exercise counts. Work out at a level you’re comfortable with and don’t over-exert yourself during pregnancy. If you’re wondering what exercises are not considered safe while expecting, check out our post about Exercising During Pregnancy.
Relaxation Techniques: Trying a relaxation technique can improve your well-being and increase positive emotions. For example, meditation has been shown to decrease stress and improve anxiety. For a few minutes, try sitting and focusing on your breath. When thoughts pop into your head, accept them and then bring your attention back to your breath. If you can’t concentrate, try other forms of meditation such as walking meditation, or a guided or visual meditation.
Another great activity to relax is yoga. You can follow a pregnancy yoga video on YouTube or you can attend a yoga class. Studies suggest that yoga may help relieve depression and anxiety by reducing the impact of your stress response.
Other relaxation methods include getting an aromatherapy massage and trying tai chi or acupuncture. Make sure that you mention to the practitioner that you’re pregnant so the proper precautions can be taken.
Balanced Diet: While more studies need to be conducted, science is supporting the argument that food affects our moods. Giving into a pregnancy craving once in a while isn’t bad, but you should try to follow a healthy, balanced diet overall. Foods that are thought to be good for mood include:
- Good carbs— Whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat, whole oats, etc.), fruits, vegetables and legumes.
- Omega 3 fatty acids— Fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, etc.), flaxseed and flaxseed oil.
- Mediterranean diet foods— Fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and vegetables.
Snack often: If you’re someone who finds yourself “hangry” (angry when hungry), snack frequently to keep your emotions steady. When you’re out running errands, keep a few snacks in your purse to avoid feeling famished. Fruits, vegetables and health bars are good choices. It may be tempting to reach for sweets or candies, but when your blood sugar levels decrease, it could leave you feeling worse.
Have a laugh: Laughing triggers the release of serotonin, endorphins and other good-feeling chemicals. Next time you’re going through a negative mood swing, find something to make you laugh. Here are a few ideas:
- Watch a funny dog video on YouTube
- Watch a compilation fail video on YouTube
- Watch a comedy movie at home or in theatres
- Watch a stand-up comedy skit
- Watch an episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos
- Watch a YouTube prank compilation
- Play a harmless practical joke on your partner
- Go to a comedy club
- Scroll through the humor section on Pinterest
- Search for funny picture listicles, such as this one
- Tell someone a punny joke
Should I See a Doctor About Pregnancy Mood Swings?
Mood swings are a normal pregnancy symptom. However, if your mood changes become severe, or last for more than two weeks, you should see your doctor. If you’ve had anxiety or depression or have a family history of mental health disorders, you should also make an appointment. Depression affects 14 to 23% of pregnant women. Anxiety and mood disorders affect up to 20%. Research shows that untreated mental health issues may affect the baby’s health and increase chances of preterm labor and postpartum depression, so it’s important to seek treatment if necessary.
If your doctor diagnoses you with anxiety or depression, he or she will probably refer you to a councilor. Even if you don’t have mental health issues, a therapist can teach you ways to cope with your mood swings and feelings.
Are you experiencing pregnancy mood swings? If so, comment below what has helped you increase positive emotions. If you have pregnant friends or family members, be sure to share this post with them, too!
P.S. If some of your mood swings are caused by stress over your baby’s health, consider getting a fetal doppler. These at-home, handheld devices allow you to listen to your baby’s heartbeat while inside the womb—ensuring you that he or she is okay.