How can I manage my mood swings?
Try to remind yourself that emotional upheaval is normal right now. That said, making a conscious effort to nurture yourself can help keep you on an even keel during turbulent times.
• Take it easy. Resist the urge to pack in as many chores as you can before the baby comes. You may think you need to stencil bunnies on the nursery walls, reorganize all the closets, or put in serious overtime before going on maternity leave, but you don’t. Pencil yourself in at the top of your to-do list. Pampering yourself is an essential part of taking care of your baby.
• Bond with your partner. Clueing your partner in about how you’re feeling and reassuring him that you still love him will help him avoid taking your outbursts personally. Make sure you’re spending plenty of time together and nurturing your relationship. Go on a vacation if you can. Strengthen your connection now so you can really be there for one another after the baby comes. If you’re single, do something to nurture your relationship with your friends and family. It’ll provide vital support for you now — and after your baby’s born, too.
• Do something that makes you feel good. This might mean carving out some special time for you and your partner. Or it might mean taking time alone to do something just for you: Curl up for a nap, go for a walk, get a prenatal massage, or see a movie with a friend.
• Talk it out. Air your worries about the future with understanding friends. Just putting your concerns into words often helps dissipate them or gives you insight into solutions. Keep the lines of communication between you and your partner free and clear, too. Make it a two-way street. In addition to pouring out your feelings, let him express his own.
• Manage your stress. Rather than let frustration build up in your life, find ways to decompress. Get plenty of sleep, eat well, exercise, and have some fun. Identify sources of stress in your life and change what you can, such as trimming your “to-do” list. If you still find anxiety creeping in, try taking a pregnancy yoga class, practicing meditation or other relaxation techniques, or consulting a professional counselor
What if I can’t shake my moodiness?
If your mood swings last for more than two weeks and don’t seem to be getting any better, tell your practitioner and ask for a referral to a counselor. You may be among the 10 percent of expectant women who battle mild to moderate depression during their pregnancies. If you notice that you’re frequently nervous or anxious, you may be suffering from some sort of anxiety disorder. Finally, if your mood swings become more frequent and intense, you may have a condition called bipolar disorder, in which you may swing from periods of depression to mania.
If you suspect that you have any of these conditions, it’s crucial that you get professional help in treating them while you’re pregnant. Research has shown that untreated emotional health problems can affect your baby’s physical well-being and increase your risk of preterm labor and postpartum depression. Both psychotherapy and medication can be very effective in treating these conditions so that you and your baby can be well during pregnancy and afterward.