During pregnancy, individuals not only experience the more obvious: physical body changes, but
they may also experience mental changes. Many outside issues including financial issues,
relationship difficulties, body changes, as well as the physical symptoms of pregnancy are likely
to influence an individual’s mental health. Pregnancy-affected mental changes include increased
fatigue, mood swings or overall moodiness, and forgetfulness (1). Some individuals even
experience a heightened sense of anxiety and depression, while other people’s feelings of anxiety
and depression may decrease during pregnancy. It is important to note that no two individuals
will have the same experience with pregnancy and the hormone changes that come along with it.
When pregnant, one’s body produces a surplus of hormones. The two most prominent hormones
that elevate during pregnancy are progesterone and estrogen. Progesterone is the hormone that
tells one’s body to relax, but for some individuals, this relaxation will come as fatigue or even
sadness. On the other hand, estrogen is known as the “energy hormone.” For some pregnant
people, this may cause a boost of motivation, but for most individuals, it causes mood
imbalances which result in anxiety and irritability (2).
After the child is born, many people experience another wave of psychological changes. Parents
may feel extreme happiness and joy because of the birth of their new baby. They may also feel
stressed, anxious, and depressed due to the newfound responsibility of being caregivers (3).
According to the CDC, anywhere from 1 in 8 to 1 in 5 parents, depending on their specific
circumstances, experience postpartum depression (4). It is completely normal to experience these
thoughts and emotions during this time of newness.
It is important to note that no two individuals will have the same experience with pregnancy and the hormone changes that come along with it
If you are pregnant or in postpartum and experiencing these mental health changes, here are
some tips on how to treat/cope with these feelings...
● Care provider. Whenever something is weighing on an individual’s mind, whether it is
concerning mental health, the physical changes of pregnancy, or even if one is wondering
whether or not their baby is the size of an avocado yet, it is important to always be
transparent with your care provider. They know the best plan of action for you!
● Counseling or a Doula. A counselor or a doula could be a great addition to an
individual’s support system during pregnancy and postpartum. The CCCN works in
collaboration with Beyond the Bump, Doula Teresa, and many other certified doulas who
can help aid in one’s pregnancy and postpartum journey.
● Exercise. Taking a walk, yoga, or meditation can be helpful outlets in aiding one’s mental
health during pregnancy and postpartum. Mild exercise, like walking, helps to stabilize
one’s mood and boosts an individual’s serotonin levels, which promotes an increase in
overall happiness (5).
● Be Gentle. It is always important, but especially during this time, to take it easy on
oneself. You are not alone in what you are experiencing and these feelings are primarily
caused by the hormones talked about above, so now is the best time to be a bit more
gentle with oneself.
Julianna La Coco, CCCN Intern
1) Healthwise Staff, Emotional Changes During Pregnancy, University of Michigan Health,
2) Pratap Kumar and Navneet Magon, Hormones in Pregnancy, US National Library of
3) Christina Murphey, Patricia Carter, Larry R. Price, Jane Dimmitt Champion, and Francine
Nichols, Psychological Distress in Healthy Low-Risk First-Time Mothers during the
Postpartum Period: An Exploratory Study, Nursing Research and Practice,
4) Postpartum Depression, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
5) Alan Frazer and Julie G Hensler, Serotonin Involvement in Physiological Function and
Behavior, Basic Neurochemistry, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK27940/
Reminder: CCCN does not give medical advice. This is for informational purposes only.