Emotional changes in pregnancy

Pregnancy brings new emotions and it can be hard for women to tell what's normal and when they should look for help.

Mood swings

Whether your pregnancy was planned or unplanned, it’s normal to have mixed emotions about it. Your mood may swing from excited to worried, or happy to sad and back again. Pregnancy hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone may contribute to giving you this mix of emotional highs and lows, especially in the first three months.

“I did start to doubt myself, thinking ‘Am I doing something wrong? Is my body not right?’ It can be quite daunting thinking, ‘Do women literally glow through nine months of pregnancy?” Sarah, mum of one. Read more...

Normal pregnancy worries, fears and stress

When you have a child, you know that your life will never be the same again. And when you’re pregnant it’s very common to worry about the future. Many women feel anxious about these things:

  • How will I cope with giving birth?
  • Will my baby be OK?
  • Will I be a good mother?
  • Will this change my relationship with my partner?
  • How will we manage for money?
  • Can I go back to work or education afterwards?
  • Will I still have a life of my own?
  • Will a previous pregnancy problem happen again?
  • Will something that I’ve done/eaten/drunk harm the baby?

“It always felt as if the appointments were a long way apart. Because it was my first baby, I constantly wanted reassurance that everything was okay and worried all the time that something would go wrong."Esther, mum of one

How your changing body affects your feelings

As well as changing your life, pregnancy changes your body, and those changes can affect how you feel too. Some women love the physical experience of being pregnant and feel strong and positive; others don’t like the way they look and feel. These are some common negative feelings that women have about their bodies:

  • ‘I feel fat and ugly’
  • ‘My body feels out of control’
  • ‘I feel like I’ve been invaded’
  • ‘I’m so tired I can’t be bothered with anything’
  • ‘Will I ever lose my pregnancy weight?’
  • ‘It’s so frustrating having to slow down on the exercise I like’
  • ‘Having bad pregnancy sickness makes me dread each day’
  • ‘Being uncomfortable all the time really wears me down.’

Coping with pregnancy worries and stress

Don’t be hard on yourself if you find yourself anxious and stressed about these sort of things. It doesn’t mean it was a mistake to get pregnant or that you won’t love your baby. You don’t need to feel guilty about feeling down at a time when other people expect you to be happy. How you feel is how you feel.

“I felt really reluctant to get any help from anybody because I felt like I was being stupid. I have a lovely partner and a very supportive family unit and in hindsight I should have asked for help.” Kate, mum of one

Here are things you can do to help yourself get through it.

Share your worries

Many women find that it helps to talk to someone they trust about what’s bothering them. Some women like to do this in an online pregnancy forum. It can feel like a great relief to share what’s on your mind and you may get some good ideas about how to deal with your problems.

Don’t let the worries take over your life

Stay positive with our Top tips for looking after your emotional wellbeing in pregnancy.

Tackle stressful issues one by one

It’s harder to cope with pregnancy worries if you have other difficult issues going on in your life – for example, if you’re on your own, or you don’t have family and friends nearby. If you feel stressed from having lots of different worries, try to break them down and tackle them one at a time, starting with the ones you have some control over.

Find out the facts and options

Often we get most anxious and stressed about things when we don’t have all the facts, so our imaginations fill in the gaps with fear. Getting good information about the things that worry you can help a lot. Here are some ways to find out what you may need to know.

If you are worried about...

 You Could...

Your own health or your baby Talk to your midwife or doctor.
Going into labour, giving birth, pain Find out all about birth and your options for pain relief here or by going to antenatal classes.
Money and work Find out about maternity rights and benefits and financial help for new parents at Maternity Action or Gov.uk
Coping as a single parent  Find advice and support from 

Gingerbread

Miscarriage, stillbirth, or coping with pregnancy after losing a child Tommy's has advice and support around pregnancy loss here. You can also look at the Sands website and The Miscarriage Association for support

 

If you have practical problems that you are worried about, it’s worth mentioning them to your midwife or doctor. They may know of local organisations that can help you sort things out.

Get help and support if you need it.

Although it’s normal to have periods of feeling worried or low when you’re pregnant, some women have feelings that don’t go away and this can be a sign of something more serious. It’s quite common for pregnant women to suffer from depression or anxiety and sometimes from other pregnancy-related mental health problems.

Other resources

Read more

Sources

  1. Royal College of Psychiatrists. Mental health in pregnancy. London: RCP, 2012. Available from: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsdisorders/mentalhealthinpregnancy.aspx
  2. Macdonald S, Magill-Cuerden J (2012) Mayes’ midwifery, 14th edition. London: Balliere Tindall
  3. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.  Antenatal care: routine care for the healthy pregnant woman, clinical guideline 62. London NICE, 2008. Available at: http://publications.nice.org.uk/antenatal-care-cg62/guidance
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Last reviewed on February 1st, 2015. Next review date February 1st, 2018.

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Comments

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 5 Apr 2017 - 12:56

    I am 36 weeks pregnant and got very bad sores I between my legs suffer really bad with piles struggle to get out of bed I have been accepted for a c section but not heard owt and can't handle it any more in pain constant when I walk and she. Baby kicks I have other children never have I been like this before and need to get some advise on how to get the them to do the c section by next week please help as never felt like this and need my baby out now ac

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 6 Apr 2017 - 11:38

    Hi, So sorry to hear that you are so uncomfortable. The best thing for you to do is to speak to your midwife about your symptoms and your concerns. Your obstetrician will have to weigh up the risks of early delivery as there is evidence that babies born before 39 weeks by caesarean section are more likely to be admitted to neo natal unit for breathing difficulties. Best wishes to you and try to keep as active as you can in these last days of your pregnancy.

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