14-03-2021 / Mental Health and Wellness

Relationship Problems While Pregnant: Mood Swings, Behavior Changes and More

Pregnancy can change your relationship with your partner. However, knowing why these changes takes place and how to cope up with behavior changes and mood swings becomes most important.

Relationship Problems While Pregnant: Mood Swings, Behavior Changes and More
Mazia AhmedMazia Ahmed

Mazia Ahmed

MSc Nutrition Science, Ph.D. Scholar

Table of Content

Introduction

  • With pregnancy comes a lot of mood swings. Women experience a wide range of emotions, from highs of happiness about upcoming babies to lows of being afraid about responsibilities and motherhood, to being confused about what is right and wrong for the baby. One of the biggest reasons for these pregnancy-related mood swings is rapidly changing hormones, especially progesterone and estrogen. Hormonal changes going on in the women's body make them less tolerant and a lot more frustrated and irritated even with the minor things. In addition to that, their ability to stay calm and collected lowers, contributing to pregnancy anger and frustration. It can take a toll on the relationship with their partner. It can also bring up other emotional issues such as insecurities, complicated family relationships, and unrealistic expectations. 

  • Research shows that most couple breaks up within the first seven years of becoming parents. Some studies have suggested that one-fifth of parents break up within the first year of having a baby. It may be due to various reasons such as lack of communication and sex, constant arguments, newfound responsibilities, and sleepless nights. It becomes even more stressful with the changes in sleep schedules, routines, managing work, and career, adjusting time with a partner to take care of the baby all the time. It leads to arguments and fights between couples which further lead to detach themselves from each other.  

Why Mood Swings Happen During Pregnancy?

  • During the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, estrogen levels rapidly soar up, reaching almost 100 times more than average. And as estrogen is closely associated with serotonin, a brain chemical responsible for 'happiness,' its imbalance can result in emotional dysregulation and mood imbalances. During this period, women can experience a wide range of emotions such as irritability, sadness, happiness, anxiety, excitement, and anger. 

  • Along with estrogen, progesterone also increases to prevent premature contractions of the uterus. It relaxes the uterine as well as intestinal muscles, which can sometimes lead to constipation. In some cases, it also results in fatigue and sadness. When we combine the hormonal mix of estrogen and progesterone, we can probably understand why women experience these drastic mood swings. 

Relationship Problems While Pregnant Infographic
  • Not only this, but physical discomfort can also lead to irritability and anger. Imagine experiencing morning sickness first thing in the morning; it spoils the mood for the whole day. Almost 70% of pregnant women experience morning sickness during their early pregnancy. Frequently rushing to the bathroom due to increase urination can also be frustrating sometimes.  

Behavior Changes during Pregnancy

  • Maternal health has a significant impact on the health of the baby. The poor health of a mother can lead to the baby's poor health status and can result in poor birth outcomes. Therefore, it is equally essential for both baby and mother to be healthy.

  • Maternal stress has been associated with increased infant mortality rates, low birth weight, and preterm birth of a baby. This subsequently has long-term consequences on the health of children throughout childhood. Studies have also shown that women who experience high levels of stress during pregnancy have a 25-60% higher risk of preterm delivery, which automatically results in low birth weight. Even if there were no complications after childbirth, stress could delay the child's development in the later stages of his life. Several studies have shown the relation between high levels of stress during pregnancy and increased likelihood of a child having congenital heart defects, hypertension, obesity, autism, and impaired cognitive reaction time in their adolescence.  

  • High levels of anxiety during pregnancy can have devastating effects on both baby and mother. It can result in loss of fetus, decrease in birth weight and increase activity in the hypothalamus. It is also accompanied by various emotional problems, mental disorders, disturbance in cognitive development, hyperactivity, lack of concentration, and focus in the baby. Some studies even indicate that extreme anxiety can cause neuroblasts' proliferation and result in severe mental disorders like dyslexia and schizophrenia. 

Infographic Stats of topic Pregnancy and Relationship Problems
  • During pregnancy, hormonal changes can sometimes cause depression. Pregnant women are more likely to suffer depression as compared to other women. Studies have shown that children of women who had experienced depression during their pregnancy are 1.5 times more likely to suffer from depression during their adolescent years. Depression during pregnancy can also lead to miscarriage, low-weight birth, and preterm delivery, which is not good for the health of the baby. If depression during pregnancy is not treated, it can lead to postpartum depression, which affects the emotional connection and bond between mother and baby. Women experience a mild form of postpartum depression, often called baby blues, lasting from 10 days to several weeks. However, about 13% of women experience postpartum depression, which lasts more than that and is more severe and harmful for both baby and mother. A mother with depression fails to secure attachment with the baby, which affects the mental, cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development of the baby. 

How to Cope Up with Behavior Changes and Mood Swings?

There are various ways to cope with pregnancy-related mood swings. And most important one of them is patient with yourself. It is vital to remember that hormones are to blame, not you.

  • Talking to Family and Supportive Friends

  • Prioritizing Sleep

  • Connecting with other Pregnant Moms

  • Yoga and Meditation

  • Walking Outdoors

  • Planning things in advance for your baby

seeking help from a counselor or professional, if necessary, can help in dealing with pregnancy-related mood swings and emotional turmoil and in resolving all your worries. 

8 Reasons of Decline in Couple Relationships during Pregnancy

 Decline in Couple Relationships during Pregnancy
  1. It has been observed that women have to take more responsibility for both household and child, which leaves them tired, exhausted, and helpless. They often have to compromise their careers a lot more than their partners, which can develop resentment and hate towards them. Therefore, it is essential to equally divide the household duties and childcare needs between both the parents. 

  2. Pregnancy takes a mental and physical toll on women's health and body. They face various insecurities and are a lot more concerned about themselves and their baby's future. They might have many questions going on in their mind and require constant assurance from their partners about support from family members, being good mothers, handling new responsibilities, and so on. 

  3. As women experience constant mood swings, they often get into an argument with spouses. Due to this, a husband avoids talking to their spouse to avoid arguments and seems distant, and in return, pregnant women end up feeling neglected and not taken care of. It develops the communication problem between both of them, and their relationship falls apart. Therefore, it is essential to resolve this communication problem as soon as possible. And the best way to resolve it is through open communication. Be precise while expressing your needs and feelings without attacking the other person is very crucial. 

  4. With a demanding newborn child to take care of, parents don't have enough time and energy to spend with each other. However, a relationship thrives on the connection which develops through time spent together. When a child comes, it becomes the number one priority for both parents, which is essential, but it is equally essential to take out a small amount of time to spend with each other, without discussing the baby. 

  5. Relationships are all exciting, with a lot of time available to go on a date on weekends and spend time together. However, a baby brings many responsibilities and much less time available to spend with significant other. Simple outing in a restaurant requires a lot more planning and things to care of, and it loses the sense of spontaneity, due to which relationships become pretty dull. But it is essential to realize that having another person to take care of; is entirely normal to plan ahead and about everything. 

  6. Another problem with the pregnancy that is responsible for the decline in most relationships is sex. With pregnancy, sexual needs change, and most couples lose their physical intimacy because of which their relationship suffers. But it is essential to understand that enjoying the physical connection and finding the passion at the moment can light up the spark in a relationship once again. 

  7. Physical changes in women's bodies during pregnancy can affect their confidence, and they may feel unattractive and insecure about themselves. Therefore, their spouses need to be a lot more understanding and compassionate about their wife's situation. 

  8. Pre-existing relationship problems can intensify during pregnancy and tend to develop into a feeling of hate and resentment toward their partners. It could be related to anything such as unplanned pregnancy, financial stress, and so on. It's better to sit down and talk it out without letting emotions get in the way.

Word of Wisdom

Pregnancy is a beautiful experience not only for mothers but fathers as well. It gives birth to a new life but also creates special bonding and connection between couples. However, in the beginning, it is filled with a mix of emotions such as happiness, love, anxiety, fear, and all. Sometimes, it can also affect the relationships in a negative way and lead to constant arguments between you and your partner. But it is important to remember that these mood swings are temporary, and everything would be better after some time. And when you look back, you will be left with all those beautiful and precious moments of your life that completely change your life for the good. 


References

BMC Public Health NCBI

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