There are plenty of emotional changes women experience that happen during pregnancy, including mood swings.
A “mood swing” is defined as “an abrupt and apparently unaccountable change of mood.”
Keeping this definition in mind is helpful because it’s normal to experience a variety of emotions as a human being. It’s the “abrupt and unaccounted for” change in mood that makes a mood swing distinct and something worth exploring, particularly during pregnancy.
So, what causes these fluctuations? As it turns out it’s a variety of factors, including hormones levels (specifically the increase of estrogen and progesterone), stress, physical discomforts, changes in body shape, fatigue, and more.
All this means is that being pregnant makes it harder to manage your emotional and mental health (it’s like trying to manage your mindset when you’re sick or tired). It’s possible, it’s just harder.
That’s why learning a few strategies to cope with mood swings during pregnancy can really help in tremendous ways.
- Related: Being Gentle With Yourself (podcast)
Coping With Mood Swings During Pregnancy
Because mood swings are likely to happen during pregnancy (maybe you have severe morning sickness and don’t feel well a lot), it can be really helpful to have ways to cope with them ahead of time, so you feel prepared, confident, and capable.
I’ve had the privilege of helping thousands of women manage their mental and emotional health. These women are healthy but feel like they could use help overcoming the day to day challenges that put them into a negative mindset or emotional spin (like feeling anxious, overwhelmed, worried, stressed, etc.).
In this post, I want to share some of the best strategies I use to help my clients with. Not only that, but I’ve used them in my own life as well and personally seen the positive effects they’ve had on my life.
Below is a list of my most effective tools for helping cope with the highs and lows of managing your emotions that are particularly useful for coping with mood swings during pregnancy.
1. Eat well by reducing sugar and flour.
Having a healthy, well balanced diet is a way to stabilize your hunger and avoid ever getting “hangry.”
Sugar and flour are two of the worst offenders for increasing the insulin in your blood stream, giving you that “sugar high” followed by a crash. This can lead to false hunger cues and more volatile feelings.
Start simply by becoming more mindful of how much sugar and flour you eat. Just notice the quantity. This can give you insight into how your mood is affected after you eat foods with a lot of flour or sugar. From there, you can decide to reduce or even eliminate either or both.
- Emotional Eating (podcast)
- How To Cope With Negative Thoughts As A Mom (free course)
- Positive Affirmations For A Healthy Pregnancy (blog post)
2. Get enough sleep.
Have you noticed it’s harder to manage your mind when you’re tired? This is scientifically true. Your prefrontal cortex is harder to go offline and your primitive, lower brain tries to take charge.
This is true normally for anyone. Add the fact that you’re expecting and have a variety of pregnancy symptoms and hormones present and it’s a recipe for making it very challenging to manage your mind.
What you can do to help yourself out: get more sleep. Stop scrolling your social media accounts and get some sleep.
It’s simple. But it’s incredibly important. So, do whatever you can to make this a top priority. Choose sleep whenever you can.
- 11 Ways To Avoid Stress During Pregnancy (blog post)
- Podcast Directory (free download)
- Teaching Kids About Thoughts And Feelings (podcast)
3. Feel your feelings (don’t react or avoid them).
Feelings are part of the human experience for every healthy human being. Yet, most people don’t know how to experience an emotion.
An emotion is truly experienced by allowing it to pass through you, without reacting (yelling, snapping) or avoiding (eating sugar, watching Netflix, shopping).
This is a lifelong practice and something I teach you how to do in Grow You (when you join, there’s a Processing Feelings course so you can learn exactly how to do this).
The benefit of allowing an emotion is that experiencing a mood swing is harmless—there’s no downside to it.
However, when you don’t do this, you end up lashing out, reacting, snapping, or engaging in any action as a side effect of resisting the emotion. This typically leads to showing up in a way you’re not proud of.
This is where pregnant women “having mood swings” gets a bad reputation. There’s nothing wrong with experiencing healthy highs and lows, even if they’re unexplainable, as long as you’re not reacting to these emotions.
As an aside, anxiety and depression (including postpartum depression and body image issues) are beyond the scope of “normal every day emotions” or “baby blues,” so if you think you’re experiencing any symptoms or that you’re feeling depressed during pregnancy, contact your health care provider and get help.
4. Start a mindfulness practice.
Mindfulness can help you cope with pregnancy mood swings because you’ll become more aware of your thinking and feelings.
You’ll see that you are not your thoughts and you are not your feelings. From there, you’ll notice the highs and lows but will more easily “watch them” instead of reacting to them.
5. Stop negative thinking.
It’s always your thoughts causing your feelings. So, if you can stop thinking negatively, you’ll reduce your mood swings significantly.
The key to stopping negative thinking is a paradox. You actually don’t want to try to stop the negative thoughts from coming. If you try to stop them, they’ll keep coming back.
Instead, notice them and become more aware of them.
As you notice your negative thoughts, question them. Get curious about them.
NEXT: Watch this free class—How To Cope With Negative Thoughts.
6. Connect with other expectant moms.
We are like chameleons. This is why the saying goes, “you are the five people who you surround yourself with.”
As a pregnant woman, there’s no substitute to getting around another pregnant woman. I did this when I first got pregnant and it was so life giving, particularly because some of them were a bit ahead of me on the journey and were really helpful as they delivered their babies a few months ahead of me.
Mood swings is something that other pregnant women will understand. And all you need is to be seen
- Pursuing Your Passion (podcast)
- What Is A Mindful Pregnancy (blog post)
- Time Management Tips For Busy Moms (free course)
7. Practice self compassion.
Said differently, be kind to yourself.
We tend to think that being harsh or self critical is the best way to change, but this isn’t true.
The best way to change is to be kind to yourself. To treat yourself like your own best friend. From this place of love, you can change permanently.
- Related: 3 Steps To Reduce Anxiety For Moms (free course)
A Final Note
Each trimester of pregnancy comes with its own changes, including emotional changes.
Pregnancy is emotional. Normalizing mood swings during pregnancy is something we can do individually to help ourselves have a better experience when we’re pregnant, as well as helping to change the stigma against mood swings during pregnancy.
When you know how to process your emotions (without reacting or acting out), there’s nothing wrong with experiencing mood swings, so give yourself a break. This is part of the process of growing a human. And it’s oh so very worth it.