Many women at any time of life will describe themselves as ‘hormonal’ when they are feeling less emotionally calm or stable. In fact, hormones do a lot more than influence the way they feel, but they can indeed affect our moods.
In pregnancy, our natural balance of hormones changes dramatically as different hormones help control how our bodies prepare for birth and how our babies grow and are kept safe in the womb. This change in hormonal balance can also bring on other physical adjustments in everything from getting a stuffy nose or looking more red-faced, to feeling sick and experiencing mood swings that are beyond our normal range.
But can mood swings affect or even harm an unborn child?
Feeling good in pregnancy
When you are feeling happy or excited, this can affect your baby in that he will be enjoying a more calm and relaxed environment in your womb.
You do not need to go overboard with ‘having a good time’, but doing activities you enjoy that raise your spirits or help you relax can be useful.
Find ways to de-stress naturally and create some justified me-time in your daily routine. And remember that gentle physical exercise is a great way to give yourself a natural high.
Feeling bad in pregnancy
Tap into what your body is doing when you feel angry or agitated and you will notice a raised heartbeat and the adrenalin rush of frustration overtake you. Understandably, some of this erratic physical experience can translate to the womb: your baby might move around or be kicking more than usual.
However, it’s reassuring to know that emotionally your baby is not affected or damaged by your particular moods.
Bear in mind that if you have an ongoing issue in your life that is negatively affecting your moods or emotions then it’s good not only for you but also for your baby if you can possibly resolve this before the birth. A new mum who is feeling overwhelmed is not going to be so well-equipped to look after herself or her baby. Take care of YOU now. For more, you might want to read pregnancy and your relationship.
Depression in pregnancy
The issue of depression is never an easy one, and the pressure of impending motherhood (whether the pressure is only perceived or is real) can be an additional factor in some people’s experience of worsening depression or bringing an episode of depression on.
Depression in pregnancy should not be ignored for fear that medication is harmful to the unborn baby. It is important that a mother’s needs are addressed and it is a good idea if you are already taking anti-depressants and are either trying for a baby or are pregnant, to discuss your current medication with your GP. (With any medication, you should tell the pharmacist or prescribing doctor that you are or might be pregnant.)
There are certain drugs which are considered safer in pregnancy and you may just need to change your prescription, or be offered safer alternatives.
An interesting report was also released in 2007 about anti-depressants in pregnancy.