Mood swings during pregnancy are a common occurrence. The hormonal, physical, and emotional changes are the reasons behind your mood swings. Although you cannot avoid these symptoms, you can try a few measures to make these mood swings less stressful.
Read on to know the common causes of mood swings during pregnancy and learn some effective ways to manage your pregnancy mood swings.
What Are Pregnancy Mood Swings?
Hormonal alterations during pregnancy affect your behavior, leading to phases of positive and negative emotions. These phases of emotions are referred to as mood swings since you may be swinging between moods (1). Pregnancy mood swings don’t feel the same in every case. You may feel anxious, angry, or sad about trivial things or amused and happy at silly things.
Some common worries may also influence mood swings in pregnancy, including financial aspects of pregnancy, delivery, and worrying about your baby’s health.
Is It Okay To Have Mood Swings in Pregnancy?
Yes, mood swings result from hormonal changes, which are not in your control. Therefore, it is natural to experience mood swings during pregnancy. Each woman may respond differently to these emotional changes, so do not compare yourself with others. Nevertheless, you may better manage mood swings during pregnancy by reducing the influence of controllable factors and external triggers.
When Do Mood Swings Start In Pregnancy?
Mood swings usually begin during the first trimester of pregnancy, between six and ten weeks of gestation. They settle down during the second trimester and might resurface in the third trimester as you near your due date (2).
Causes Of Mood Swings During Pregnancy
A lot of changes happening in the body, both physically and mentally, could be responsible for mood swings throughout the pregnancy.
- Hormonal fluctuation is perhaps the most common cause of mood changes. When you get pregnant, the level of pregnancy hormones (progesterone and estrogen) increases. This usually results in feelings of anxiety, sadness, fear, and frustration, which can lead to depression (3).
- Extreme tiredness and morning sickness are generally experienced during the first and second trimesters. These could be responsible for changes in your mood. You may have a mix of emotions, such as forgetfulness, moodiness, and even anxiety (4).
- Lack of sleep, due to the growing belly and other pregnancy changes, is another cause of mood swings. Insufficient sleep can make you feel irritated and cranky.
- Health conditions such as hypothyroidism, gestational diabetes, and underlying psychiatric problems could be responsible for mood swings as well. They are linked to feelings of depression, fear, irritation, and fatigue during pregnancy (3) (5) (6).
- Anxiety and stress: Studies suggest that about 20% of women might deal with mood and anxiety disorders when pregnant. Therefore, if you experience any signs of stress or depressive symptoms, it is important to seek medical care to avoid further mental-health complications (7)
- Physical changes: A woman’s body undergoes several bodily changes during pregnancy, including weight gain and an altered body structure. These changes could contribute to mood swings in pregnant women (8).
Irrespective of the causes behind them, mood swings could be managed.
How To Deal With Mood Swings During Pregnancy?
A healthy diet, combined with a few lifestyle changes, might help you relax and manage your mood better.
- Indulge in meditation and yoga: Most pregnant women go through feelings of anxiety, depression, and sadness. According to a study, yoga and meditation practices during pregnancy could help reduce the symptoms of depression (9).
- Get proper sleep: Try to minimize sleep disturbances by creating a comfortable sleep routine, wearing loose/comfortable clothes, dimming the lights in your room, avoiding gadgets before sleep, and using pillows for support. Try to get eight hours of sleep daily and an afternoon nap.
- Get a prenatal massage: A prenatal massage might relieve your muscles and reduce pain, and aid in the functioning of the lymphatic and circulatory systems. This could improve your mood and help you to stay calm (10).
- Pamper yourself: You could consider trying simple yet fun activities like shopping, eating something that you are craving, going for a walk with your partner, watching a movie, or spending some quality time with your loved ones. Indulge in a hobby that you enjoy. Anything that makes you feel better works.
- Talk to your partner: Sometimes, just talking to your partner about your feelings can help you relax. Vent out when you need to, and don’t stress yourself by overthinking everything.
- Stay mindful of various pregnancy-related aspects: You might have a lot of fears about pregnancy and childbirth. Some could be valid, but others could probably be due to a lack of knowledge. So, talk to your doctor, clear any doubts about the pregnancy, diet, tests, prenatal care, or health conditions, and make the right decisions.
- Stay healthy: Health conditions (gestational diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or anemia) could also stress you. Do not neglect them or overthink them. Instead, focus on managing them by taking medicines and following your doctor’s suggestions.
When To See A Doctor
It is okay to feel a bit worried about your pregnancy. Nevertheless, if the concerns are severe or you face other issues, do not hesitate to speak to your doctor. Consult your doctor soon if you experience any of the following for more than two weeks.
- Frequent panic attacks
- Breathing difficulties
- Appetite or sleep disturbances
- Trouble concentrating or remembering things
- Sudden and extreme mood swings
- Prolonged sadness (for no apparent reason)
- Excessive tiredness or inability to perform routine tasks
- Crying often or incessantly
Your doctor may recommend a few tests or refer you to other specialists based on your symptoms (2) (11).
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can mood swings during pregnancy affect the baby?
During pregnancy, your baby is exposed to everything you experience. If you feel happy and calm, your baby develops in a happy and calm environment. However, if you are feeling anxious or stressed, your body produces certain hormones that can affect the baby’s brain and body development (12). Even research studies highlight that a mother’s psychological health may affect the neurodevelopment behavior of the fetus (13).
2. Is it normal to fight with my partner during pregnancy?
Fighting with your partner during pregnancy is normal. Some common reasons you may argue with your partner are as follows (14):
- You feel your partner is being overprotective of you
- You are tired, sick, and moody
- You both are anxious about the baby’s arrival
- You feel your partner isn’t taking enough interest in the pregnancy
3. Could my mood swings be due to depression?
Mood swings during pregnancy are common. They may wear off once your body adjusts to hormonal changes (15). But, if you feel depressed for most of the day for two weeks, get recurrent thoughts of suicide, lose interest in activities, and have difficulty thinking, concentrating, and making decisions, speak to your healthcare provider to ascertain you aren’t experiencing symptoms of depression (16).
4. Are mood swings a sign of pregnancy?
Yes. Mood swings are a sign of early pregnancy (17). However, they aren’t definitive signs of pregnancy, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you are pregnant if you are experiencing mood swings.
5. Is it normal to feel angry during pregnancy?
Bouts of anger during pregnancy aren’t uncommon. Hormonal changes, fear of childbirth and labor, discomfort due to nausea, back pain, and constipation are common reasons for stress and anger during pregnancy.
Occasional pregnancy mood swings are common due to several physical and physiological changes occurring in the body. However, it is crucial to ensure that these mood changes are not severe enough to interfere with your day-to-day abilities or become worrisome to you or your family. Consequently, if you find yourself struggling to deal with your emotions or moods when pregnant, you may speak to your close ones and seek prompt medical care to avoid further complications.
- Mood swings are caused due to various reasons during pregnancy, including hormonal and physical changes.
- Speaking about your concerns and incorporating helpful changes such as resting well, indulging in prenatal yoga, and taking up a hobby could help combat mood swings.
- Although mood swings are normal in pregnant women, you should contact a doctor if you feel anxious or sad all the time.
- Pregnancy stages and changes; Department of Health State Government of Victoria Australia
- Mood Swings During Pregnancy; American Pregnancy Association
- Depression During & After Pregnancy: You Are Not Alone; healthychildren.org (2018)
- Emotional Changes During Pregnancy; Michigan Medicine
- Depression in early pregnancy linked to gestational diabetes NIH study finds; National Institutes of Health (2016)
- E. Yilmaz et al.; Relationship between anemia and depressive mood in the last trimester of pregnancy; The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine (2017)
- Psychiatric disorders during pregnancy; Center for Women’s Mental Health
- Coping With Common Discomforts of Pregnancy; The Regents of The University of California.
- H. Gong et al.; Yoga for prenatal depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis; BMC Psychiatry (2015)
- A. Rothstein; Prenatal & Postpartum Massage: Massage for the Mind Body & Spirit; Minnesota School of Cosmetology (2018)
- Feelings relationships and pregnancy; Pregnancy Birth and Baby
- Emotional health for parents during pregnancy and after the birth; Government Of Western Australia
- Michael T. Kinsella and Catherine Monk; Impact of Maternal Stress Depression & Anxiety on Fetal Neurobehavioral Development; NCBI (2013)
- Relationship problems and pregnancy; Tommy’s
- Emotions during pregnancy; NCT
- Depression During Pregnancy; Cleveland Clinic
- Am I pregnant? Early signs and symptoms; NCT