Imagine you’re at home watching your usual evening TV show, when a quirky and lighthearted laundry soap commercial comes on. The background music was a pop song from the eighties. Within seconds of the music starting, you suddenly burst into tears. But was it the commercial that got you started?
Pregnancy has a powerful effect on emotions, which can change quite unpredictably. This is due to your hormones reaching levels that your body isn’t used to coping with. But not only do your hormones interact with each other, but also with neurotransmitters. Serotonin is the most notable of these chemicals, because of its role in regulating mood.
Trimester by Trimester, Hormone by Hormone
Hormones can make their presence felt as early as the first trimester. During these initial months, human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG, rises sharply. This hormone is responsible for maintaining the lining of your uterus to support implantation of the embryo. Estrogen and progesterone begin their steady nine-month climb to sustain the pregnancy, developing blood vessels in the uterus that nourish and support the fetus.
While estrogen and progesterone can cause you to become emotional, hCG causes morning sickness, so if it’s not the hormones that directly make you cry, the symptoms would. The first trimester is especially stressful for any expectant mother, due to its unpredictable nature. Try to let go of the issues that you have no control over, communicate with those who can help you out, and make use of your social support system.
By the second trimester, hCG has plateaued, so you have some relief from the symptoms associated with morning sickness. Estrogen and progesterone continue to rise throughout pregnancy, however, so expect more mood swings all the way until your due date.
Another hormone to watch out for is cortisol, a stress hormone that is released when you worry. Although it is unlikely for any pregnant woman to be worry-free throughout pregnancy, if you have too much stress, it can harm both you and the baby. Studies have shown that women with high cortisol levels during early pregnancy were three times more likely to have a miscarriage. If you feel yourself so anxious that it gets in the way of your health and daily function, you really should see a doctor, one who specializes in women’s health, encompassing physical, maternal, and mental wellness.
Staying Worry Free
Any woman who’s considering getting pregnant has plenty of things to consider, and once you’re a few weeks in, you face decisions that you need to make. During your second trimester, you may choose to assess the viability of the fetus, check for the possibility of birth defects and other information. These tests can pose a risk for the baby, and they are not always precise. For example, if you undergo a test that reveals a greater risk for Down syndrome, you may still give birth to a healthy, normal baby, as long as you don’t allow yourself to become excessively worried or distressed.