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Mental Metamorphosis of Pregnancy and Postpartum

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.

Authored by:

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,

Reminder: CCCN does not give medical advice. This is for informational purposes only.

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