Managing your emotions during pregnancy and after birth

Posted by iChild, May 02, 2018 1:32 PM

By Midwife and Life

By the time I was pregnant for the third time, before I even showed him the two pink lines he told me,

“You’re pregnant!”

Pregnant woman 1

How did he know? Because I was being so unreasonable about something and my mood swings were awful. Turns out he was right; a few days later it was confirmed. I, like many other women, seem to get taken over during pregnancy and can be extremely happy or extremely low from one day to the next. The stress, hormonal changes, body changes and fatigue that pregnancy brings all have an effect on your mood and emotions. It may be a much wanted pregnancy or unplanned, each bring their own problmes to the fore. Pregnancy can bring up issues from your childhood that you didn’t realise were there, making you anxious about your role as a parent. You may have concerns about bringing a child into a turbulent world.

Some mothers to be respond by feeling more depressed and anxious, or you could develop OCD like behaviours. Your emotions may be heightened, both positive and negative. Your mood changes will peak during the first trimester, calm down in the second trimester and then return to haunt you again in the third trimester. Have you heard of nesting? It actually turns you into a moody control freak, wanting everything done NOW and your way. When you look back you’ll realise it didn’t actually matter that the nursery curtains were up and the kitchen cupboards were cleaned and rearranged, but at the time it was life and death that it happened.

Some common anxieties in pregnancy:

Will I be a good mother?

Will I like my baby?

What if I think the baby is ugly?

Will we have enough money?

Will my partner bond with the baby?

What the hell have I done?

Will my body ever go back to normal?

These fears are all common and will mostly drop away once the baby is born. Other days you’ll feel like a blooming earth mother and ready for anything. All of these variations are normal. Things that can help you manage the mood swings

Be reassured that these changes are normal and you will feel more yourself once things settle down after the baby is born. Some simple self care routines will help:

Pregnant woman 2

  • Rest and slow down. Try not to completely redecorate the house, manage an extension, move house, take on a new business. Say no more than you say yes - except to help.
  • Talk it out. Talk through your feelings, either with your partner, friends or family, or even online. You’ll find that many women are experiencing and going through the same fears and worries, and you can share together. Find other women who are due at a similar time to you.
  • Spend time together as a couple. It can be difficult as your body changes and the emotions develop to readjust as a couple. Take a break together or simply spend some quality time together. If you’re on your own build your close friendships and family relationships so you have a support network for after the birth.
  • Self Care. Do what makes you feel good – spend time alone, treating yourself, indulging your hobbies, reading. Eat a well balanced diet, drink plenty of water and light exercise. Consider meditation, hypnobirthing techniques for relaxation. Don’t neglect yourself at this special time.

What to do if you feel overwhelmed

Fourteen to 23 percent of women will battle mild to moderate depression or anxiety during pregnancy. If you feel like your anxiety or depression is starting to take over your life and preventing your daily activities, it may be time to seek help. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and it’s really important to seek help before it gets worse. No-one will judge you, they just want to see you getting the right support and, if necessary, medication. You may be offered psychotherapy, counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). If you leave it, things could get worse and start to affect the baby’s welfare, as well as increasing your chances of postnatal depression.

Your Emotions after the birth

MotherandBaby3

Once you have the baby, even if you were fine during pregnancy, the drop in oestrogen and progesterone after birth can hit you like a stone. It is extremely common to have the ‘baby blues’ at around the third day after birth, when the milk comes in. This will come in whether you breast or bottle feed. Put this together with fatigue from the birth and a crying baby, pain, totally alien environment and feeling overwhelmed in your new role - and it’s not surprising really! Firstly, know that it’s normal; everything will seem magnified, so if something small goes wrong - like the dinner gets burned or your package doesn’t arrive - you will find yourself in floods of tears.

Sometimes the ‘blues’ will continue a bit longer as you adjust, for others they fade but don’t completely retreat, leaving you in postnatal depression. If at six weeks you are still feeling very low, tearful and anxious, speak to your GP or Health Visitor. They will be able to support you. Again, no-one will be making any judgements on you. I have suffered myself with my first, and I was thinking I didn’t know how it could happen as I’d always wanted children but felt I couldn’t cope. I was angry and frustrated at myself for not coping better. Once I got treatment I was like a different person and could function again. Other conditions include postnatal anxiety, and postpartum psychosis. Here’s a few suggestions if you feel at a low point after birth:

  • Exercise – go for a walk once a day if possible, even if it’s just to the corner shop.
  • Diet – eat a balanced diet and don’t neglect yourself. Pop the baby in a carrier and stand up to eat if necessary!
  • Keep hydrated.
  • Socialise: Go to playgroups, baby classes, coffee mornings, anything that gets you out of the house and talking to other Mums. Try not to compare yourself with others and be honest.
  • Talk to your partner - share your feelings, involve your friends and family.
  • Accept help – any offers are good, from accepting a cooked meal to someone who will hold the baby whilst you shower or get your hair done.

If you’re worried about your emotions or anxiety in pregnancy or after the birth, speak to your GP, Midwife or Health Visitor.

By Midwife and Life

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