Managing Pregnancy Mood Swings

Giggling one minute and weeping the next? Don’t worry—you’re not alone. Pregnancy mood swings are pretty normal, especially during your first and third trimesters.

Here’s why they happen, plus how to cope.

Causes of pregnancy mood swings

It’s no surprise that like morning sickness and uncomfortable third trimester symptoms can affect your moods during pregnancy. Hormonal changes are another factor behind pregnancy mood swings, which, like physical discomforts, tend to peak during your first and third trimesters, says Aron Schuftan, M.D., an OB/GYN in  Silicon Valley, California.

Then, there’s the emotional stress. Wondering whether you’ll be a good mom and whether your baby is healthy are totally normal worries that, when paired physical changes, can be a recipe for feeling like an emotional rollercoaster.

Dealing with pregnancy mood swings

Get some sleep. Between wondering whether you’re all set for maternity leave and if you’ve tackled everything on your new baby checklist, you might be up half the night worrying instead of getting much shut-eye. Still, it’s essential to relax as much as possible, Schuftan says. Studies show that too little sleep affects the way your brain responds to serotonin, the hormone that helps keeps your moods stable.

So make getting 7-8 hours of shuteye a top priority. If you can’t unwind, take a warm bath with lavender essential oil, or spritz lavender on your pillowcase. Just a whiff of the scent is known to have a calming effect, helping you drift off to snoozeland sooner.

Eat the right foods. If you’re wondering what to eat when pregnant, know that healthy fare will give you more energy and help keep you on an even keel, emotionally. Stick to a diet of mostly whole, unprocessed foods—especially fruits and vegetables. Boosting your intake enhances feelings of calm, cheerfulness, and energy, finds a recent University of Otago study. Swap chips for cherry tomatoes at lunch, or nosh on frozen grapes or banana slices after dinner instead of ice cream.

Also be sure to get a steady supply of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help stave off depression (and will boost your baby’s brain and eye development). Walnuts and flaxseeds are both great sources, and you can add them to your morning bowl of yogurt or oatmeal. Low-mercury fish like salmon and anchovies are another great choice.

Exercise. Sneaking in some moderate pregnancy exercises, such as yoga and swimming, will help release the feel-good hormone oxytocin. A dip in the pool, in particular, can help enhance circulation and relieve pregnancy back pain, two discomforts that are likely contributing to your grouchiness.

Seek out support. Talk things out with your partner or a friend, or other moms who’ve been there. It won’t just help you manage your pregnancy mood swings—research shows that having emotional support during pregnancy can also minimize your risk for postpartum depression.

By Nicole Pelletiere