Ever wondered why your wife could be the sweet demure woman you marry in one instant and a monster scarier than The Hulk in the next when she is pregnant? Ever felt like hiding in the closet (or at least cowering and giving in to her every demand) when that happens?
During pregnancy, it’s quite common for your wife’s emotions to be up and down, and everywhere else besides. This may be attributed to surging hormone levels, as the amount of oestrogen and progesterone in her blood increases. These increased hormone levels can affect her mood, causing her to laugh like a hyena on happy gas one minute and crying like a lost little girl the next.
Yes, you have experienced this and you have suspected that her pregnancy hormones may have had something to do with it. So what can you do then to help bring out more of the Dr Jekyll and less of Ms Hyde in your significant other, you ask?
Do read on to find out…
Tip 1: Understand the reason for her mood swings…
The first step towards helping your wife during this difficult period is to understand why she is behaving in this manner. Much of her moodiness, though, may simply be due to the fact that pregnancy is a time of tremendous change for her. While she may be overjoyed at the thought of having a baby, a part of her may also be overwhelmed by what she has gotten herself into.
She may be worrying about whether she will be a good parent, how having a baby will affect your relationship, how the both of you are going to cope financially and whether with her changing body, you will still find her attractive. In addition to the emotional stressors, she may also have common health problems of pregnancy, such as heartburn, fatigue and morning sickness which can take a toll on her mood.
Tip 2: Know when it starts and ends…
Mood swings tend to be most noticeable in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. She may not be able to control her emotions properly during the first trimester. However, you should find that things will stabilise after that, as her body adapts to the hormonal changes and she starts getting used to the idea that she’s expecting.
Nevertheless, you may find that she will once again experience mood swings in the last few weeks of pregnancy, or just before going into labour. So be prepared to be her knight in shining armour (or her Superman if you are more into contemporary comic book superheroes) when this happens.
Tip 3: Running to the rescue. Helping her manage her mood swings…
Although much of her moodiness will be hormonally driven and out of your control, there are ways that you can help her cope with it.
- Step up and help
Firstly, you may have to step up and offer her help, even if she insists on doing most of the things for the baby’s arrival herself. She may feel the urge to climb the ladder to stencil the nursery and paint all the walls before the baby arrives, but try to
stop her from doing that by either stepping up to be the handyman yourself or just reassuring her that there is no rush to get it done. Alternatively, if she insists and you have the money, you can also opt to hire a contractor to get it done. Overall it is important for you to make her feel like she can lean and rely on you for help. If you can get her other family members to assure of the same, that would be even better.
- Make her rest
Also, do assure that she gets plenty of rest. Remind her to take naps when she can. If she’s working and feeling very tired and stressed, try planning for a quick getaway for you and her. You might even get her to consider taking her maternity leave earlier than planned so that she will have time to recharge her batteries before your baby is born.
- Make time for fun
Go and see a feel-good movie with her (yes that includes watching romantic comedies or any of the Twilight movie that her heart so desires :)), allow her to catch up with friends over coffee, or sit in your garden or the park with her if the weather’s good. Anything, basically, that will help her to take her mind off the pregnancy niggles for a while.
- Talk it out
We know that the male species were not built for talking especially if the conversation is one of a heavy emotional nature. But for the sake of your wife’s sanity, you may have to suck it up and do it anyway as one of the best antidotes to feeling down is to talk to someone.
Besides talking to her, it would be good if you can also help her find community support groups for pregnant mothers (ie our Pitter Patter website) where she can share her feelings with other mums-to-be.
Exercise is a well-known mood-lifter. It’s good to encourage your wife to get up and get moving. Better yet? You should do it together as it will motivate her to stick with it. (note: doing Yoga will not make you less of a man). You can both sign up at the gym or go for walks in the park. Ultimately, when she feels great, you would too.
- Bond with your wife.
It’s likely that she realises that you have been bearing the brunt of her mood swings. Let her know that you still love and cherish her anyway. This may help calm her and reduce the magnitude of her outbursts. When she is calmer, try to spend more quality together. It will help to strengthen your bond before your baby arrives.
- Eliminate her guilt.
Pregnancy is a life-changing event. She’s bound to feel overwhelmed, irritable and anxious at times, even if she’s been choosing baby names from the time you first proposed. This may make her feel like a horrible person and affect her mood even more. So do go out of your way to get her to cut herself some slack.
Tip 4: Other things you can do if none of the above worked.
If both you and she feel that her mood swings are more than run-of-the-mill, it’s a good idea to talk to your Obstetrics & Gynaecology consultant and explain your worries. He will be able to get your wife the help and treatment she needs.
About 10% of women are thought to experience depression during pregnancy. If your wife often or consistently feels down, she may fall into this category.
Very intense, severe and frequent mood swings may indicate a condition called bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression. These mood swings usually last for at least several weeks or months at a time.
The feelings range from feelings of extreme happiness and elation (“highs”) to periods of intense depression and despair (“lows”). It’s rare to develop bipolar disorder for the first time during pregnancy. However, women who already have the condition are more likely to have a flare-up at this time.
While pregnancy may be a challenging period for you and your wife, it is also a new and exciting journey for both of you. By helping her eliminate the causes of her stress and lifting her mood when necessary, you can not only look forward to having a “non-scary wife” but also enjoy this experience of embracing parenthood.