Understanding Psychological Changes during Pregnancy

Psychological Changes in the First Trimester

Most people believe that all pregnant women are glowing and happy. The truth is that women experience many emotions during pregnancy, starting with the first trimester.

Mind-Body Interactions in the Mother-to-be

Although all pregnancies have certain general similarities, each pregnancy is special. Shifts in your body image, changes in your hormones, and your attitude toward cultural pressures and expectations all combine to make your pregnancy unique.

Each of the physical landmarks of pregnancy is accompanied by specific psychological issues that affect your perception of that particular part of your pregnancy. For example, if your pregnancy was planned and wished for, you and your partner undoubtedly responded with joy and anticipation to the news that you have conceived. If the pregnancy was unexpected, you may initially have mixed feelings about it.

Interactions between your body and your mind occur throughout your pregnancy. For example, a high level of stress in your life or negative feelings about being pregnant may contribute to some of the nausea that occurs in the first trimester (three months). And the nausea and vomiting may make you feel less than enthusiastic about your pregnancy.

It's important to remember that because of this interaction between mind and body during pregnancy, trying to maintain a positive outlook may actually alleviate some physical ills.

The First Trimester

Numerous psychological changes occur once you are aware that you are pregnant. Although you may not look any different to other people for weeks to come, you start to feel a number of changes beginning. A rapidly changing emotional state is one of them. Your usual emotional highs and lows are magnified at this time, and if this is your first pregnancy, these feelings may confuse you. Situations that normally would not bother you provoke you to tears or cause you to become depressed or angry at yourself or those you care about.

These sudden emotional swings are more pronounced in some women than in others. This depends on your personality structure, the kind of stress you are experiencing, and the emotional support you are receiving, as well as hormonal changes in your body.

Since the risk of miscarriage approaches 20 percent in the first trimester, you may worry about whether the pregnancy will continue. If you have had a previous miscarriage, this is a time of heightened stress and anxiety.

Talking to a friend or a counselor might be very helpful at this time, especially if the feelings of anxiety and tension appear to significantly interfere with your day-to-day activities. Also, it is important to try to get as much rest as you can during the first trimester because rest helps you feel better. If there is a lot of stress in your life, you may want to modify it, if possible, or attempt to learn some relaxation techniques to help you cope with it. Meditation and yoga are two helpful relaxation techniques.

Relaxation techniques will continue to benefit the expectant mother throughout her pregnancy. Go to the next page to learn about the changes that happen during the second trimester.

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