Pregnancy is very often seen as a time of delight, of celebrations, of looking forward and revelling in the fact that you are about to bring a little life in to this world. Family and friends are thrilled, and all the talk around you is of good things to come.
But…..what if you just aren’t feeling quite so upbeat? What if, despite the fact that this was either what you wanted, or a welcome surprise, you just feel, well, out of sorts? Maybe a bit down? A feeling of flatness? Or of worry? Or guilt?
I have been there. Despite being over the moon about being pregnant, I have experienced the kind of moods that did not seem to fit with the very exciting thing that was happening inside my body.
The kind of moods that make it difficult to give my children the patience that they deserve.
The kind of moods that make me want to hide away at home when I am usually such a social creature.
The kind of moods that mean my husband does not know exactly who this wife is that he comes home to every night.
This is my fifth pregnany, and the third to make it to twenty-two weeks, and I recognise the symptoms well.
Tiredness and hormones can combine to play games with your mind, leaving you low in mood and with much less of a desire to do anything. Guilt can kick in for loads of reasons – not being able to play with your older children in the same way, feeling like you shouldn’t be feeling like this when you’ve got so much to be happy about, the list goes on. And all of these things can hit at any time, some people feel like this right at the start, and some suddenly feel low in their final weeks.
Sometimes those hormones can make your moods swing around like crazy, from highs to lows with a good few tears in between. It can be a complete rollercoaster and it can be overwhelming for all concerned.
However, the good news is that there are some things you can do to bring back some positivity during your pregnancy, and to keep those positive vibes flowing throughout the remaining months. Over the course of all my pregnancies, I have picked up a few hints and tips to try to remember if you find yourself struggling with a low or fluctuating mood.
Firstly, it is important to try to figure out whether what you are feeling is a spell of feeling down/anxious/rubbish or something that could be classed as pre-natal depression. Depression usually lasts weeks or months, and if you experience this it is important that you see someone to get some support. This website is recommended for further details if you suspect you may be feeling this way.
For me, it was (and still is) spells of horrendously low mood that have been scattered throughout each pregnancy. While it did lift after a week or two each time, I found the following things to be a MASSIVE massive help each time:
- Be Kind To Yourself.
Seriously. Your body is going through HUGE changes, hormones are having a party, life is changing and you deserve to treat yourself nicely. Make time for the little, achievable things that you love and don’t feel guilty for it…..cake, magazines, books, coffee with friends, TV, time alone, whatever. Just make sure you do something that makes you happy, often.
Talk to someone. I don’t mind who. Your partner, family, friends, your midwife, your online support network. This is helpful for two reasons; you feel better for chatting (and you will often get some good chat and advice back in return), and also it can help you and others keep an eye on whether you are still in a ‘low mood’ little phase or whether it is potentially becoming more serious. As before, if this is the case please speak to your midwife or GP.
3. Do Something.
Anything. As tempting as it is to stay under the covers, make it a thing to achieve something every day. You will feel so, so much better about yourself if you have managed to take the children somewhere, or go for a small walk, or craft, or see people, or whatever real life is asking you to do and you feel like is too much like hard work. Just one thing a day, you can do that! After that, see No 1 above.
4. Start a Gratitude Diary.
I was sooooooo sceptical about this when it was suggested to me, and I have to admit I don’t do this routinely but whenever I feel the mood slipping I restart and it helps no end, honestly. At the end of each day, I write down three things I feel grateful for in my life. After that, I don’t give it much more thought but honestly, it must be some kind of magic because those positive vibes come creeping in again. Trust me.
Because of the magic of endorphins, this will make you feel SO MUCH BETTER. And doubly magic if you move outdoors, as the outdoors weaves a special web that tends to improve your mood too. So, depending on your physical limitations, find a way that you can fit some movement in your day, and do this every day, even just a little bit. Walking is excellent, as is aqua natal if you’ve got any sessions near you. Pregnancy yoga is beyond good for you (although when I went the whole group had to forgive me for the extra help I needed – flexibility is NOT my middle name) and if you want to stay indoors, try a pregnancy exercise DVD. You will NOT regret it.
I hope this helps. I am twenty-two weeks pregnant right now and have reintroduced most of these over the last few days, and I plan to start the gratitude diary tonight. Feel free to share your tips for keeping your mood up during pregnancy – the more we talk about this, the more it helps.