Understanding Emotional and Psychological Changes in Pregnancy
If you’re pregnant, the physical and physiological changes that happen during pregnancy will most likely be obvious to you and others around you. But you will also experience certain emotional and psychological changes, that you may not be prepared for or expect. It is important to understand that these changes are due to the influx of hormones in your body and completely natural. All these changes are temporary and will pass when your baby is born. However, it is important to keep yourself in the best of health, both physically and mentally, for your sake as well as that of your child. This article will help you understand the personal changes that you will undergo in the three trimesters of pregnancy, as well as provide you with some tips on how to handle them.
Emotional & Psychological Changes during Pregnancy
The surge of pregnancy hormones like estrogen and progesterone that help your baby develop, also impact your neural pathways. You can expect yourself to feel exhausted, forgetful, sulky, short-tempered, depressed and experience a whole lot of other emotions during pregnancy. All these changes along with physical changes you experience can be a lot to handle. It always helps to mention any unwanted changes to your doctor as they are best equipped to support you through your pregnancy.
In the First Trimester
In the first few months of pregnancy, you will experience tiredness, nausea, lower back pain and more. Progesterone has also been linked to changes in mood, alertness, crying for no reason, and morning sickness. It is quite common for first-time mothers to have mild symptoms of anxiety as they might be afraid of things going wrong. These fears are unwarranted but completely expected. Nearly every pregnant woman in this situation has had the exact same concerns.
How to Handle – Survival Tips
- Manage Your Time
It can get worse if you have older children to take care of, but it is rather important not to stress yourself during this period. Not giving yourself time to unwind every day and getting your regular eight hours of sleep can worsen any mood changes already present.
- Seek Support
This cannot be emphasised enough: You are not alone. Your friends and family are always there if you need help. Communicate your needs. Get your partner to take on household chores, ask your parents or friends to babysit, don’t deal with the entire burden on your own. Remember to eat a balanced diet and drink enough water every day.
- Understand the Situation
As long as you are aware of the potential difficulties in the pregnancy ahead, you can deal with it when it comes. If something is particularly challenging, imagine your baby is asking you to do it.
Going to yoga classes is a great way to de-stress and relax during pregnancy. You can even learn mindfulness meditation and simple breathing exercises from online tutorials.
In the Second Trimester
The problems of the previous trimester, like exhaustion, mood flux, morning sickness usually disappear in the second trimester. In their place, you might experience forgetfulness and become less organised than usual. The increased weight and physical expansion of your body can also give rise to body image issue in you. While these pregnancy emotions are usually less extreme, they can affect you significantly.
How to Handle – Survival Tips
- Learn to Handle Difficult News
Around the 16th week of pregnancy, your doctor might suggest blood tests or amniocentesis test for birth defects in the foetus, such as Down’s syndrome. The likelihood of your child having any sort of disability is rather small, but it helps to stay prepared just in case.
- Bond with Your Partner
These changes may affect your relationship with your partner. It is important that you both spend some quality with each other to sustain your emotional bond. You can also sing and read to your baby together.
- Learn to Love Yourself Again
Your body will not be the same as before. Even though these physical changes are essential for foetal development, they might make you feel unattractive and unhealthy. Further, it is common to feel sad about the excess fat developing on your body, which can result in low confidence and self-esteem levels. If the weight gain is affecting you considerably, you can try simple cardio exercises approved by your doctor. In addition to staying fit, cardio can reduce the likelihood of pregnancy diabetes.
In the Third Trimester
The forgetfulness and disorganisation from before might still be there. As you get closer to your due date, you might start experiencing some mild anxiety about labour and birth. Further, you will experience more physical aches, like back, neck, leg and rib cage pain, which will worsen your mood. With increasing discomfort comes greater irritability.
How to Handle – Survival Tips
- Keep Calm
The rapidly approaching due date can cause anxiety and fear in you, as you begin to consider the childbirth and the impact that baby will have on your life. You needn’t worry, as the experience is different for every woman. Emotional stress during pregnancy can have negative effects on the baby. Studies have shown that women who have high amounts of the stress hormone, cortisol, were much more likely to experience miscarriages. Continue with yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation to keep yourself relaxed and positive.
- Visit Your Doctor
The importance of regular visits to your gynaecologist in the third trimester is known to everyone. Your hormones are going to change more than ever before, and it is only prudent to ask your doctor about how to deal with these changes.
- Prepare Your Home
It is a natural tendency of expecting mothers to make their living spaces ready to welcome the newborn. This includes creating a sleeping area, baby proofing the house, and ensuring you have basic supplies like diapers, medicated powders, milk bottles, and so on. Besides, this can be a diversion from the stress and anxiety about the upcoming childbirth.
Emotions during pregnancy can seem too much. They may even alter your personalities and bodies beyond recognition, but these changes don’t last forever. As tumultuous as the pregnancy ride is, what matters at the end is the safety and well-being of your little one.