Women's Healthcare Topics

Physical Stress in Pregnancy

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Physical Stress Contributes to Mood Swings

Physical stress on the body contributes to mood swings. Morning sickness, food aversions, constipation, light headedness, back ache, sciatica and the list goes on and on. Pregnancy is wonderful; it's truly miraculous, but that doesn't mean it's all pleasant. The physical stress on your body is immense. When bodies are under stress, that stress is bound to have emotional ramifications.

This is why the mood swings often disappear or markedly decrease in the second trimester. Less physical stress, less emotional impact.

Keep in mind that the mood swings are temporary. They always end, don't they? If you're feeling particularly sad or angry or frustrated or confused, take comfort in the fact that it will pass almost as quickly as it began. Then, when you're feeling like yourself again, do a little self-examination.


What has been happening to you physically in the time preceding the outburst? When's the last time you've eaten? Did you sleep well last night? How much exercise have you had? Take note of causes of physical stress and work to reduce the stressor. Experiment a little to see how changes to your physical self can help your emotional self. You'll be amazed at how much control you can have over the seemingly uncontrollable.

Unrealistic Expectations

Learn about the stress associated with a new pregnancy.

Unrealistic expectations can cause emotions to flare. Be patient with your pregnant body and its limits. You may need to lower some expectations temporarily. Don't get hung up on having a spotless floors or six course meals.

I'm not suggesting you throw all your expectations out the window, but if you notice that certain things are setting you off (like lint on the carpet or the presence of pizza boxes in your trash) take the time to re-evaluate your standards. Is it really necessary to vacuum every day? Is pizza once a week such a bad thing?

Give yourself a break...you're pregnant and your body is very busy working on other priorities right now. Internal ones, which will have lifelong repercussions. What's a few less than crystal clear windows compared to a lifetime of health and happiness for your little one?

Even the Highest Highs can be a Problem

Even the highest highs can be a problem, so don't assume that just because you're always up that everything is fine. While there are some women who are sunny and spirited people all the time, if you find yourself suddenly like a marathon runner dashing from one pregnancy to-do activity to another - with no other focus - you run the risk of burnout.

Uncontrollable shopping or endlessly telephoning one friend and relative after another during all your free time to discuss baby plans can wear down your friends and your partner, and eventually yourself. Ups and downs should occur, so if you're always on an emotional high, consider taking some down time to allow your emotions to level out. Go on a quiet weekend with your spouse and concentrate on one another, rather than baby for a couple of days. If a change of pace does not level out your emotions, talk to your doctor.

It sounds pessimistic to say that being too up can be bad, but it's true. This is a rare problem, but it does exist.

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