Managing Anger & Emotions During Pregnancy

Moms to be, have you ever snapped at your partner for suggesting the wrong thing for dinner? Lost your keys, then lost your mind? Are you stressed about nursery décor to the point of fighting and tears?

Gee thanks, pregnancy hormones, you’re a real treat!

Pregnancy is a very special time in a woman’s life, with so many emotions. While we often talk about the joy and excitement of expecting, we shy away from addressing the other feelings. Expectant moms might also experience anxiety, worry, and even anger.

If you want to avoid spending the next nine months feeling like a volcano on the verge of eruption, keep reading. I’m sharing my simple five-step process to managing your anger during pregnancy.


What To Know About Your Anger

The most common cause of extreme emotional responses during pregnancy is hormones. As your body changes to support the growing life inside of you, your hormones tend to fluctuate.

This can lead to more intense feelings, conflicting emotions, and frequent mood swings.

Another common cause of anger responses during pregnancy is good ol’ stress.

There are few events in life as life-changing as welcoming a new child into your family. As exciting as it is, the transitions and stress of the unknown can also cause tensions to run high and impact your ability to control your anger.

When Should I Consult My Doctor?

Expect a few stress or hormone-induced outbursts of anger over the next nine months. Stress and anger are not only a part of pregnancy but part of any human existence.

The key is identifying the difference between normal hormonal moods and a more serious situation. The baseline emotional state varies from person to person, so you and your loved ones are key to determining what is normal for you, and what might need to be addressed by a professional.

Take Note

If your anger and mood swings are consistently increasing in frequency, intensity or duration – longer than two weeks – speak to your healthcare provider. If your anger is interfering with your relationships or daily life, this may be a sign to seek a referral to a counselor who can address more serious conditions like antenatal depression or anxiety (source).

Anger And Your Baby’s Health

Anger and anxiety trigger stress hormones including cortisol and send your body and mind into “fight or flight” mode. A continuous stress response (as opposed to periodic elevations), can trigger an inflammatory response in your nervous system.

Take Note

Inflammation has been linked to poorer pregnancy outcomes, including lower birth weight and premature delivery. New research is also now demonstrating a link between elevated stress levels and behavioral issues continuing into the unborn baby’s childhood. (source)

It may be hard to stop stressing once you know the impact of stress. But remember, stressing about your stress levels and anger will not make them go away. Instead, use this information as motivation to implement some changes to handle your emotions better.

Managing Emotions During Pregnancy: The Five R’s

1. Rest

This is often a hard one for busy moms, especially if you work outside the home and have older children to care for in addition to your growing belly.

Although it can be tempting to stay up late to get everything done and stay on the go all day long, don’t fall into this trap. It can be incredibly taxing on your body which is already under strain.

Prioritize your body’s need for rest by aiming for these rest milestones throughout the day:

  • Ten minutes of rest for every hour of being on your feet/activity.
  • A 20-30 minute nap whenever possible.
  • Seven to eight hours of quality undisturbed sleep every night.

These will help you maintain your energy levels and minimize the physical discomforts of pregnancy such as swelling, back pain, and headaches, so they don’t add to your irritability.

Here is a great five minute guided prenatal relaxation video to help you rest from yoga and wellness lifestyle experts, Gaiam.

2. Recharge

Remember the age-old adage of putting on your oxygen mask before assisting others? They say it on airplane journeys, and it certainly applies to the journey of pregnancy as well.

The growing life inside of you is literally draining you (and we mean that in the nicest way possible). Be sure to fuel your body frequently with healthy foods, so you have energy throughout the day.

Remember

Choosing healthy food over junk will also help you maintain regular bowel movements, and supply your body and baby with all the necessary nutrients for growth.

Keeping up a regular, mild exercise routine is an important element. Exercise helps to manage your stress hormones, release feel-good endorphins, and alleviate physical symptoms such as constipation and insomnia.

Aim for the following recharging activities throughout the day:

  • 20-30 minutes of mild physical exercise (gardening, swimming, walking).
  • Small 300-400 calorie, nutrient-dense meals/snacks, five to six times per day (source).

3. Reconnect

While you and your partner are both focused on preparing for baby, don’t let your relationship slide. Make time to connect on an emotional level with each other.

Take Note

Investing in your relationship with each other now can help you weather the possibly stressful times after baby’s arrival or while you prepare for this big transition in your lives.

Pregnancy is also a great time to reconnect with yourself and continue to pursue your interests. Taking time for personal hobbies you enjoy enables you to maintain emotional balance.

Whatever it is – reading, prenatal yoga, painting, 5-10 minutes of meditation in the morning – create those experiences for yourself and make sure you remain a priority on your to-do list.

4. Remove Conflict and Stress

Try as much as possible to remove yourself from stressful situations. If you have older kids testing limits or a strenuous job, you can’t just walk away for the next nine months.

However, you can identify a few isolated conflict-inducing incidents, and choose a different approach to handling them.

Whether it’s a problematic co-worker or your toddler throwing a tantrum, if you’re upset, it is perfectly acceptable to take a break before you discuss the issue.

Give yourself a few moments to regain composure, and focus on another activity (walking, reading, deep breaths) to calm you down. (source)

You may also reduce stress by removing unnecessary items from your to-do list. This might decrease your level of anxiety and overwhelm.

5. Release

Release the expectation to be happy and joyful about this pregnancy 24/7. We don’t discuss these negative emotions because we worry that people will think we aren’t excited to be expecting or are taking for granted this blessing in our lives.

Pregnancy can be difficult! Permit yourself to feel these emotions without judgment.

Take Note

Having an honest and vulnerable conversation with a close friend or your partner can often change your perspective.

Making a list of your concerns, or writing your emotions in a journal, can help you accept the emotions as normal, and give you some relief (source).

If you decide to confide in someone else, choose a trusted friend you know will be supportive and empathetic. If you are journaling, then give yourself grace.


Getting A Grip On Anger

Our nation is beginning to recognize postpartum depression and anxiety. However, some conditions specifically occur during pregnancy, called antenatal depression or anxiety. They are less known but affect 7 to 20% of all pregnant woman (source). I saw antenatal depression nearly as much as postpartum depression in practice, yet mothers rarely discuss it.

If you are feeling more emotional, you are not alone! Most women feel emotions more intensely while pregnant. If the anger turns into sadness or persists, you could be dealing with an antenatal mental health disorder. Seeking counseling is an effective way to improve your symptoms and take back your pregnancy. Let your healthcare provider know what your concerns are so that they can keep both of you safe.

Headshot of Caitlin Goodwin, Certified Nurse-Midwife

Editor's Note:

Caitlin Goodwin, MSN, RN, CNM

If you’ve used these tips, and still have trouble with your emotions, don’t put off a discussion with your healthcare provider anymore! Just as you wouldn’t ignore a physical symptom, take care of your mental and emotional health.

And now it’s your turn – other moms want to hear from you! Do you have any more tips for managing anger during pregnancy? Share your wisdom with other moms-to-be below! We’re all in this together.

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12 Reader Comments

  1. Thank you for writing this. This really helped me after I had a total meltdown with my husband and almost punched a hole in the wall! It was crazy. I have been so stressed out at work and all these changes in my body and I just lost it tonight. It was like I had no control over my emotions! Anyway, thank you. I REALLY needed to read this!

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Thank you, Leigh. I’m glad I was able to help. Hang in there and just remember you are not the first person to feel this way ♥

      • April wallace

        It is scary and stressful to feel this way. I spoke to my doctor and she put me on antidepressants. But now I am stressing over the medication as well. It is just so tough.

        • Jenny Silverstone

          It can definitely be both scary and stressful. I hope you are able to get some relief soon!

  2. Britney

    This article was helpful. I had a very passionate conversation with my mother-in-law that took a turn for the worse. It was not my intent to hurt her feelings, but I wanted her to consider the desires and wishes of my husband and me when we bring our baby home.

    I was honest and passionate while also acknowledging that my feelings may change later in my pregnancy; nonetheless, she was tearful and sad because of my outburst. I need to make a few changes and focus me and the health of my baby. I think resting and reconnecting will surely help!

    • Jenny Silverstone

      I completely understand emotional outburst, I think we all have them sometimes (pregnant or not). I hope you are able to take some time to yourself, and that your mother-in-law respects your wishes.

  3. Lorena

    Thank you for this. I often find myself in tears and feeling lonely. My partner isn’t doing anything to cause this, he’s just been working a lot with a female coworker, and it has me feeling insecure and angry. It all brought me into a rage today and resulted in me throwing some clothes in his face. I know it wasn’t right at all. I will be trying this. Thank you so much.

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hi Lorena, I’m sorry you are going through this. Once, when I was pregnant with my son, I had a breakdown over my husband bringing me a bottle of soda instead of a can. I felt so ridiculous afterward and apologized a lot. A long hot bath helped me to relax and reset. Are you doing anything to help you wind down?

  4. Sidra

    I want to thank you for this article, I have been unfair to my partner, and it has been a rollercoaster. We had such a bad argument that I had an asthma attack, something I’ve never experienced before. The thing is I’ve been thinking about doing some stuff on this list. This article solidifies that I need to listen to my intuition. Thanks again!

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hi Sidra, I’m glad that this article could help! I had a few arguments like this with my husband when I was pregnant as well so don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes our emotions get the best of all of us!

  5. Niki

    I needed to read this article and implement the advice into my life. My first pregnancy I was sick the entire time, this time around I am full of emotions. I deleted my Facebook account and have stopped talking to friends and family.

    I feel like everyone always needs something from me emotionally, and I am tired. I cry and cry all of the time and am very angry. There doesn’t seem to be a trigger; it just seems to happen slowly. My husband is very supportive, and when he is home I feel better, but when he is at work, I feel like a dark cloud is hanging over me.

    I’m planning my daughters first birthday party in a few weeks, and I’m so unhappy that I have to talk to my inlaws. I’m afraid of what I might say because I have zero tolerance for anyone.

    My husband wants to schedule a prenatal massage for me the day after the party; he is a smart man. I want to feel like myself again.

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hi Niki,

      I am so sorry you are going through this. My heart breaks reading your comment, but I do know how you feel. I was in a very similar place when I was pregnant with my youngest. Have you found any coping mechanisms that help bring you to a happier, more relaxed place? For me, it was handing the kids over to my husband and going to sit in a warm bath for a while. Just have some quiet time by myself really helped me to feel centered again.

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