“I said I wanted DARK CHOCOLATE you *&%$#!” – A guide to first trimester mood swings

“I said I wanted DARK CHOCOLATE you *&%$#!” – A guide to first trimester mood swings

It starts with the pregnancy test:

  1. Hope for a surprise: “Please let there be a line”
  2. Quiet heart-stopping surprise: “There. is. a. line”
  3. Yelled from the bathroom: “THERE’S A LINE!”
  4. The tears kick in: Th, th, there’s a, a, a, line!”
  5. Then the panic: “&**%&$ there’s a *&^#@^*) LINE!”
And repeat for the next 14 or so hours.

Welcome to the erratic world of pregnancy emotions. Or as we like to call it: “Pregnancy Related Crazy-Pants”.

Hello first trimester hormones!

About three minutes after the initial shock has worn off, the hormonal mood swings kick in. You’ll find yourself wiping away a tear during a particularly sad insurance commercial before screaming at your partner for buying the wrong shaped pasta while throwing it at his head. Hard.

So why all the drama? Well, you’ve got a hormonal bath going on in your womb, for starters. Your levels of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG), rise sharply in the first trimester and then dip and level off at around four months into pregnancy, to help keep the embryo firmly implanted in the uterine lining. Progesterone and estrogen levels are also increasing to help sustain the pregnancy and build up nourishing blood vessels, and with them come a pregnant woman’s unwelcome guests: Moodiness and Tears.

So you really do have a physical excuse for becoming a walking episode of Shortland Street, but what can you do about it?

1. Sleep as much as you possibly can.
Next to impossible if you already have children, but at least give yourself a break on the house cleaning.

“I called my pregnancy sleeps “panic naps” in the first trimester. It felt like I was being pulled under water as I fell asleep, and then dragged out of a bog when I woke up.”

2. Communicate your needs and be specific.
Don’t expect your partner to guess that you wanted 62% dark chocolate and that nothing else could possibly do.

“My husband was really frustrated that he had to guess what I wanted, and if he got it wrong I would yell, cry and sob. Which would be fine if it was something really important but I actually did this when he got sandwich slice not toast. Sure, we laugh about it now…”

3. Say yes to social support.
If someone offers to help, say yes – no-one expects you to be superwoman, and those who’ve been there know only to well what it's like. Also check out what support is offered to pregnant or new mums in your area, like pregnancy groups and home help. Knowing you're not the only one feeling unhinged can be a real help!

“I felt I had to be perfect during my first pregnancy, and didn’t want to accept that I needed a break. With my second I accepted every bit of help offered, from folding washing to taking my boy out for a quick walk so I could grab five minutes on the couch – it made all the difference.”

4. Accept the rollercoaster ride is here to stay
Accepting that you’re not entirely in control of your emotions is a good place to start. Explain the science to your partner so he understands the hormonal soup you're floating in. So you’re not cruising through pregnancy in a bubble of joy and peace – welcome to motherhood, the never-ending rollercoaster ride!

Next time: “Yay, a bump! Or do I just look fat?” - The highs and lows of the Second Trimester


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