Your pregnancy hormones may not be in full-swing yet, but it won't be long before they're taking over your body. This isn't as scary as it sounds, but you should be aware of your emotional health throughout your journey to motherhood.
There are plenty of emotional ups and downs that you'll experience during pregnancy. From mood swings to bouts of depression, you may not even notice that hormones have started to wreak havoc on your body.
You should know that it's common to have mood swings during pregnancy. It's due to the hormones that have an effect on chemical messengers in the brain, also known as neurotransmitters. This causes you to experience a range of emotions during pregnancy. Keep in mind that each mom-to-be responds differently to the changes and no one is the same.
Most moms-to-be notice that their emotions and moodiness starts to kick in between weeks 6 and 10. This first stage of emotional changes starts to lighten up during the second trimester. Your emotional roller coaster will kick back in again as you approach your due date.
You have a lot of thoughts going through your mind when you're pregnant. As a first time parent, you may have no idea what to expect when it comes to giving birth, how to take care of a baby or how you'll survive as a mother. This is something that every soon-to-be-mother goes through, although hearing that it's a part of pregnancy may not do the best to brighten your mood or make you more cheerful. You may go from being stressed to feeling overwhelmed in a matter of minutes only to break down in tears a half hour later.
You're going to worry about things that you would have never thought you'd even think about including whether or not you're reading the right books or if you're buying the right products to care for your child.
Some women are prone to bouts of depression or anxiety during pregnancy. You'll want to keep an eye out for these as they can have an effect on both you and your baby. When depression or anxiety go untreated during pregnancy, you put your baby at risk of low birth weight, poor adaptation outside the womb, premature birth and a low APGAR score (which rates a newborn's health after delivery).
The risks of untreated depression and anxiety to the mother include difficulty attaching to your baby, postpartum depression or anxiety, preterm labor and preeclampsia. You should be sure to talk with your health care provider if you're feeling sad for at least two weeks, have low energy, experience changes in appetite, are getting too much or not enough sleep, or suffer from irritability, excessive worry and disrupted sleep patterns.
Coping with stress during pregnancy
It's exceptionally easy to become stressed out during pregnancy. Between preparing for the arrival of your little one to working and ensuring that you have the financial support you need to take time off from work, it's not unlikely that you'll go the full nine months without feeling even a little bit overwhelmed.
If you are feeling stressed, check out some of these tips for dealing with it during pregnancy:
Rest: Your baby can tell when you're stressed, so be sure to rest when you start to feel overwhelmed. Take a few minutes to yourself if the day seems like a chaotic mess. Take a power nap if you can, or simply close your eyes to refocus on the day ahead. If you're tired, be sure to go to bed. The to-do list you have can wait until tomorrow.
Exercise: As long as you have permission from your health care provider, exercise. Go for a walk around your neighborhood or go for a swim at the local pool. Exercise helps to improve your mood, so you can stay healthy and prevent stress by making sure you get in at least 20 minutes of physical activity each day.
Eat well: You're not only feeding yourself, but a growing baby as well. While you shouldn't be eating for two in the literal sense, you should remember that there's a little person inside of you who is depending on you to eat well and healthy. Aside from giving your baby the nutrients he or she needs to be healthy at delivery and later in life, eating well will also help keep your mental health in good shape.
Talk it out: Anytime you're feeling stressed you should talk about it. Whether it's with your partner, a best friend, parent or therapist, talking about it is the best way to let it all out. Talking about your worries can help make you feel better and relive some of your stress.
Treat yourself: When you're feeling exceptionally stressed out, help yourself (and your baby) by enjoying a moment of your own. You can meet up with friends to take the edge off of all that's going on in your life or watch a funny movie to ensure that you'll get a good chuckle (which is an excellent way to relieve stress). You may also want to consider heading to a local spa for a massage, facial, manicure or pedicure. Many spas offer maternity massages designed especially for pregnant women.
How are you dealing with stress during pregnancy? Share your comments below!