Mood swings are a well-known and accepted, but totally unpredictable, side effect of being pregnant.
Undeniably, it can feel like an emotional rollercoaster complete with ups, downs, side jerks, jolts and the sensation you’re about to be thrown from your seat. Not so fun 😞
And while there’s no way to get off the ride, you can strap yourself in and attempt to navigate the bumpy track – or at the very least, understand the driving force behind it.
What causes mood swings in pregnancy?
“Your body is producing hormones at levels you’ve never experienced before and they’re whizzing round your system like wildfire,” reveals independent midwife Eleanor May-Johnson.
“Is it really any wonder that on top of all the physical changes you’re going through, you feel up then down, happy then tearful, elated then furious – all in the same day?”
The main culprits behind these mood swings are the hormones oestrogen and progesterone – after all, they’re the ones that cause PMT symptoms, too.
“Pregnancy is a bit like having PMT on steroids”, says GP Dr Jeni Worden.
“Oestrogen’s a real multi-tasker. It makes your boobs sore as it’s stimulating your milk glands, it helps your womb to grow and maintain a baby-friendly lining, and it makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight”.
But progesterone is the real don’t-mess-with-me hormone. “It can have you in floods of tears one minute, throwing things the next. It can knock your libido, too,” says Jeni.
Pregnancy mood swings: what our mums said
If you’re worried you’re the only woman gone wild with hormonal changes, think again. Mood swings affect loads of mums-to-be, at any stage of pregnancy, in completely different ways.
As MFMer racheltidy says, “I am usually a chilled out person all month long however the last few days I have turned into the devil!! Just want to shout at everyone! Happy days! I am 5+4.”
And nikr knows just how she feels,”I had the exact same thing last week – I was a total bitch to my OH and didn’t want him anywhere near me! He is used to me wanting my own space when I’m due on as I can be very snappy, but it was 100 times worse last week!!
“He’s very understanding and even that irritated me last week – he couldn’t win whatever he did!!! This week I am feeling much better – but these bloody hormones have a lot to answer for!”
Team_Blue_aka_doublebubble added: “I was fine with my 1st pregnancy, but this one I’ve been a nightmare! I can feel myself flying off the handle, but can’t stop myself – although I think DH deserves it as I have all the other horrid pregnancy symptoms, so at least he is getting some crap ones, too! LOL xxx”
Even one of our writers admitted: “When I was pregnant I would cry at the silliest thing, get irritated by my husband if he so much looked at me the wrong way.
“I once even found myself blubbering in the middle of the supermarket for no reason.”
Read the 6 different types of pregnancy mood swings
How I can control these moody feelings?
Sure, family-sized boxes of Kleenex and punching pillows can help, but there are a few other ways to help calm the storm…
“It’s impossible to be logical when you’re shattered, so try to get plenty of rest and be upfront about how you’re feeling,” suggests GP Jeni.
“Talk to your partner, friends, colleagues. Most people will understand where you’re coming from and it helps if you’ve explained why you’re snappy or sad.”
Meanwhile, clinical psychologist Linda Blair has another approach:
“Try to do some gentle aerobic exercise at least 3 times a week.
“In the short term, it will give you an endorphin boost to smooth your moods, and in the long term, it lowers your metabolic and pulse rates a little”.
She explains that this is like lengthening a very short fuse – ensuring it’s harder for a little niggle to turn into a full-blown meltdown.
So, the advice is just to relax? RELAX?!
Yes, we know it sounds a tad patronising. But it can make a difference, if you’re willing to try a few techniques.
One past MFM writer says pregnancy yoga worked wonders – there were still some moody (and rather teary) moments throughout her pregnancy, but on the whole it helped make a big improvement.
“Don’t underestimate the power of a few deep breaths, either,” says Linda.
“Focusing on your breathing helps you to assert a little bit of control. If you’re feeling wobbly-lipped, or about to lose your rag, breathe in through your nose and hold it.
“Feel the breath in your body, then let it out nice and slowly. Then breathe in through you nose and out through your mouth very slowly, 3 times.
“It won’t stop the hormones, but it might help manage your reaction.”
Do pregnancy mood swings ever stop?
Put down the pitchfork, because we have some good news 😍
Many mums report feeling a little better in the later months of pregnancy, as the levels of pregnancy hormones even out.
But some women’s hormones do keep running amok a little longer than planned…
As KTandKlan told our forum: “Hormones have a lot to answer for!!! Seriously, I have just been through the toughest week of my life. I’m 32 weeks and this is my 1st. I have a 4-year-old stepson who I raise as my own and last week I didn’t want him or the baby or my OH.
“I even packed (a pair of socks and hair straighteners!!) to leave!!! I have no real explanation of why I felt like that as I love them all so, so much and can’t wait to meet my bambino!” 😂
If all else fails, things should start to calm down post-baby.
Could I actually have depression, though?
It’s important to remember that mood swings, however crazy, are part and parcel of pregnancy.
However, at least 10% of mums-to-be are thought to experience antenatal depression or pre-baby blues.
So just to be safe, make sure to speak to your doctor or midwife if you feel:
- Permanently down or on edge
- Tired but unable to sleep
- Isolated or over-anxious
- Like you have no interest in life
Last but not least…
Try to be kind to yourself. You’re going through monumental changes that are unavoidable at the moment, so act as though you’re your own best friend. Do things that you love. Treat yourself.
And if you’re really concerned or worried about something, definitely speak to your GP.
Finally, make sure to forgive yourself for doing anything that might seem out of character while expecting 🙃