Emotional Changes during Pregnancy
by Belinda Johnson
Emotional Changes during Pregnancy
Finding out that you are pregnant is usually a very emotional experience - you are either delighted, or terrified, or somewhere in between. However you felt when hearing that you were pregnant, the chances are that you were not surprised to be a bit emotional about it. Such things are to be "expected". What does surprise many women -and their partners- on the other hand is the ongoing emotional changes which may occur during the course of the pregnancy. This is perfectly normal, but understanding what to expect, and why, will help both you and your partner get the most enjoyment out of this amazing experience.
During your pregnancy your body is going to undergo some tremendous changes in hormone levels. Mood swings are very common because of these hormone changes - it is not something you have much control over. Nearly all pregnant women are prone to emotional ups and downs. Common "side effects" include bouts of feeling unsure and panicky, extreme reactions to minor things and even crying.
The important thing to realize is that all of this is perfectly normal, and has nothing to do with you as a person. As soon as you and your partner accept this, the low points become so much easier to deal with. Some women suffer from terrible guilt or feelings of inadequacy because of these mood swings, which just makes it harder for your "moods" to pass. There is no need for you to feel guilty at all! Accept that you will feel down from time to time, make sure your partner knows this, and look forward to the "up" part of the mood swings.
As your body shape and size changes during your pregnancy, you may begin to feel very strange about yourself. At times you may even feel that you are trapped in someone else's body, or worry that you are getting "fat" and unattractive. We live in a very image conscious world, so these concerns are natural. However, pregnant women are in fact extremely sensuous, and there is no more potent symbol of womanhood than being pregnant. You should feel proud of the obvious signs of your fertility! You should remember, too, that pregnancy gives you some advantages from a looks point of view. The increased blood flow normally improves your skin and gives you that healthy "glow" that pregnant women have.
Your image of yourself while you are pregnant is very important. If you feel good about being pregnant, you will probably look good too.
Anxiety about the baby
It is normal for pregnant couples, but especially the mother, to spend a lot of time worrying about the health of their baby: What if there is something wrong? Will he or she be "normal"? Keeping up to date with all your checkups and visits to your health care provider will help calm you. Making sure that you follow a decent diet plan and keep yourself physically well will also be reassuring.
If this is your first pregnancy you will probably feel a bit of anxiety about how good a parent you will be, and whether or not you will cope with the strain of caring for your newborn child. Again, this is perfectly normal - most women worry about accidentally harming the baby or not being able to deal with the day to day baby care. Having a good support network (partner and family) in place before the birth will go a long way towards making you feel confident that you can do it, so make sure you discuss your fears and worries with them. Try and learn as much as you can about caring for a newborn baby, and speak to other mothers that you know. Having this knowledge will make you feel more equipped to "do the right things" when the time comes.
You may find yourself having bad dreams or nightmares about your baby. This is just your subconscious dealing with the fears you are probably trying hard not to think about while awake. It's important to remember that no matter how disturbing these dreams are, they are not reality. Try and think of them as your subconscious mind blowing off steam.
Concerns about Labor
Almost all women worry about labor and how they will handle it. Fear about the pain and worries about whether or not you will embarrass yourself are common. You will find yourself thinking of this more and more as your pregnancy comes closer to full term. Learning about labor and childbirth, and practicing your exercises and breathing techniques will go a long way towards making you feel confidant about the birth process. You will be more aware of what is going on around you, and you will likely feel less pain too.
Although it might sound like your pregnancy is going to be nothing but a long string of emotional crises, this is not the case for most women. You will have various ups and downs, but for the most part this will be perfectly manageable, especially if you have a supportive and involved partner. Just remember that all the emotions you experience are felt by most pregnant women, they are perfectly normal and you shouldn't allow yourself to be stressed by them. Pregnancy is a wonderful experience, so don't allow normal emotional changes to ruin that experience for you!
Finally, remember that one of the main tasks for you during the nine months of your pregnancy is to mentally prepare yourself for motherhood. Your future planning and lifestyle are going to have to include this new human being. For most people, these are big changes. You might even find yourself having second thoughts at some stage during your pregnancy. Having these thoughts does not make you a poor mother, or a bad person. If you are to successfully prepare yourself for becoming a mother (or father), you and your partner need to be completely honest about these feelings. Very often just talking abut your concerns will make them easier to deal with.
Belinda Johnson helps maintain the Pregnancy Calendars website.