What you are going through is normal
The reason why pregnancy mood swings are a ‘thing’ is because they happen to all of us – you can read some of my experiences here. Unfortunately it’s not something you can avoid, but you can learn to cope with them and not let them impact on your life too much.
We all go through mood swings every day. Some days it can be more pronounced, or more difficult to deal with.
The crappy thing is now that you’re pregnant, your hormones are going haywire again, just like when you were going through puberty. You can find yourself irritated, scared, anxious, angry, sad, happy, excited, and flat – all in one day, and all in extreme levels.
It really can help to remember that what you’re going through is perfectly normal and happens to all of us. I don’t say this to lessen your experiences, but simply to give you a bit of peace of mind in that you certainly aren’t alone!
No, it’s not all caused by the hormones
The amount of comments I’ve had from people, particularly at work, about mood swings almost rivals the comments about my belly. And I find them just as uncomfortable. Any little change in my mood is suddenly a ‘pregnancy induced mood swing’. Sometimes it almost feels as dismissive and insulting as being questioned, or worse yet told, that my mood is simply a byproduct of having my period. Like women can’t have moods because of the things happening to them, or the way they are being treated.
Yes, a pregnant woman’s moods are definitely influenced by her hormones at that moment, but that doesn’t mean they are 100% caused by them. Maybe someone just pissed her off, or something just made her laugh.
Mood swings aren’t always into a negative space, you can swing wildly into a very positive space too!
It’s important to remember that hormones will have an impact on your mood, but so will your environment and situation.
1. Identify the trigger
If you feel you emotions swinging around, see if you can identify a trigger. Maybe someone said something that upset you, or you are hungry or tired. Sometimes you will be able to find a trigger, but sometimes you won’t, and that’s perfectly normal too.
If you are able to identify a trigger, pop it away in your memory and think about how to deal with the situation at the time. If you don’t have time right then, try to find some later to have a bit of a think so you can cope better next time.
It could be something as simple as standing outside in the breeze made you feel really happy – remember that and go outside to feel the breeze more often! Or if the way someone spoke to you made you really angry, speak to them about it later and see if you can resolve the issue.
If you can get into a habit of identifying triggers for your moods, you stand a much better chance of coping with them in the best way possible.
2. If you catch yourself in a negative space, try to move out of it
Sometimes you just need to remind yourself that you are allowed to not be in a bad mood. Just because something happened to turn your world negative doesn’t mean you are required to stay that way.
You have the option at any point to let yourself move out of that negativity.
You might not move right away into positivity, but at the least you can move in that direction. Sometimes a deep breath is all you need to break the cycle, sometimes you might need to physically remove yourself from a situation.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so do what you need to do in order to protect that. If that means lessening ties with toxic people or situations, doing some meditation or exercise, or even just taking 10 minutes to spend on a hobby, it’s perfectly acceptable. Look after yourself and you increase your ability to look after those around you.
3. Write things down
I’ve personally found writing to be therapeutic over the last few years (I blog about my teaching experiences, and it has really helped me to reflect on my practice and my personal head-space within that job). If you are finding your moods are becoming overwhelming, you aren’t coping well, or you’re just super excited about everything, try writing it down!
I find writing down my negative experiences takes the sting out of them and lets me take a step back to reflect on them in a less emotional way. At the same time, writing down my positive experiences heightens them and leaves me with more distinct memories to look back on.
You can do this in so many ways – start a blog like this one, write letters to a friend or family member, write letters to your new child, start a private journal, dot-point things on post-it notes. Whatever works for you, at least give it a go.
4. Make to-do lists
Sometimes you are moody because you know you have a long list of things that need to get done. Write this list down, then tick them off once they’re done! There’s something deeply satisfying about ticking things off a list, so give it a go and see if it helps lesson some of the stress you might be feeling.
Sometimes even the act of writing a list provides a measure of relief. You are acknowledging the things that need to be done, and shifting them around into priorities. Whether or not you get to actually doing them in the near future is irrelevant – just write them down for now to clear your head and give you a sense of direction and achievement.
Having a plan of action to follow can be a relief, especially if there is an event or commitment coming up that is stressing you out – talk with your support people about the situations where you might need one, and write them down.
5. Lean on your support people
I mentioned this before, but feel it needs to be it’s own distinct category. Lean on your support people when you need to. I say ‘when’ and not ‘if’, because there will be times you need to.
Learn to accept their help, and learn to ask for it with humility. Don’t make assumptions, but genuinely approach your support network when you need to.
It doesn’t matter how rough your pregnancy is, or how wildly your mood swings are, if you need help then access it. Your mental and physical health will only benefit from it!
If you feel like you can’t reach out to your friends and family, or don’t have any available, try and access some more professional help. This could be your midwife, doctor, nurse, a mental health organisation, the list goes on. Never feel like you are weak, that you are bothering them, or that it isn’t worth asking about. These professionals are there for this exact reason – to support you through your pregnancy. Let them be the judge as to whether the situation is something to be worried about or not, that’s what they get paid for and are trained for! Even if they come back and say everything is perfectly normal, at least you’ll know! They will never be annoyed that you reached out, in fact they are likely to be the exact opposite.
6. Apologise when you need to
Sometimes you just do something really crappy to someone else. Sometimes it’s a result of your mood. If you realise you’ve done or said something that’s upset someone else, just apologise. They need to hear it, and you need to say it. Apologising shows great strength of character, and can be a cleansing feeling.
You don’t need to be embarrassed (or maybe you do, depends on what you did). Simply explain that you understand what you did/said was wrong, sincerely apologise, and move on. There’s no need to weigh yourself down with guilt and anxiety over small things if you can come to a good resolution with the other person.
7. Keep communication open
The worst thing you can do for yourself and those who care for you is to shut down and pack yourself away. Keep lines of communication open with your partner, family, and friends – let them know if you are struggling and if there is a way they can help. Include them in your excitement and planning, chances are they are looking forward to welcoming your little one to the world almost as much as you are!
Also let them know that you are still you, and you still want to spend time with them and help them with their lives as well. Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean everyone else’s lives stop moving forward – don’t shut people out!
8. Eat and stay hydrated
If you’re anything like me, you get hangry sometimes. In case you don’t know what that means, it’s when you get angry as a result of being hungry. There’s a biological basis in there, something to do with blood sugar levels.
If you find yourself perhaps a tad irrational, or irritated at things you normally wouldn’t be, try eating something. Even the simple act of taking a moment to focus on eating can be enough to break a bad mood, and if you love food as much as I do the act of eating makes you a tad happier anyway!
You could also be dehydrated, so make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids and/or eating liquidy/juicy foods. Yes everyone tells you you’re supposed drink 8 glasses of water a day, but that’s a bit of a misrepresentation. You’re meant to have that much liquid/fluid a day, and it can come from any source, not just water. So if you find it difficult to be drinking that much water, don’t stress at all! Just try to keep up with juicy/liquidy things to make sure you’re hydrated overall. When you are pregnant this amount needs to increase in order to maintain your increased blood supply, so make sure you have a drink handy at all times, just in case.
9. Let yourself ride the emotions
The worst thing you can do for yourself is to shut it all away and ignore your emotions. If you need to cry, just let yourself cry (put on a sad movie if you need an excuse – I recommend A Walk To Remember or The Lion King). If you need to have a rant and rage at the world, find a sympathetic friend and let it all out.
At the same time, if you are excited or happy, embrace it! Don’t push away those feelings as if you don’t deserve them, because you do and so does your baby. It doesn’t matter how crappy your life situation is, you are allowed to be happy.
Ride the emotions, keep your support people close, and work to reduce your stresses, and you will have a much more enjoyable pregnancy!
Remember, you’re not alone!
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, you certainly aren’t alone in dealing with mood swings and stresses. Hopefully some of the tips above can help you cope a bit better – let me know if you have any other suggestions to add, or if you need someone to talk with about your own experiences!
Do you know someone who is dealing with mood swings or stresses during their pregnancy? Or perhaps the partner of someone? Share this post with them so they can work towards relief!