Your partner shut the door too loudly. Your best friend forgot to call you back. Another driver took the parking space you wanted at the store. Any of these things may have been nothing but a momentary annoyance to your pre-pregnant self, but now your first response is to blow up.
Many people envision a pregnant woman dissolving in tears at the drop of a hat. Although that may certainly be true for some women, others could experience completely different emotions. One of these emotions is anger.
Are you wondering where these angry or bitter feelings come from and what you might be able to do about them? Here is some information about what could be behind these strong emotions and some suggestions for dealing with them in a healthy way.
What Might Be Causing Your Angry Feelings?
First of all, you are not crazy. Many chemical, physical and outside factors associated with pregnancy can legitimately contribute to your newly-short temper.
Hormones often get the blame for a pregnant woman’s sudden mood swings, and rightly so.
These chemical substances act as communicators and regulators throughout the body, and they affect or influence almost every organ and body system.
As your hormone levels fluctuate throughout pregnancy, you could experience a wide array of unusual emotional and physical changes in response.
Physical Pain or Discomfort
Most people are not in their most positive mood when they are in pain or are just plain uncomfortable.
The early months of pregnancy can mean breast pain, nausea, vomiting and food aversions for many women. While these discomforts often pass later in pregnancy, backaches, an itchy belly and compressed lungs can take their place. These painful or uncomfortable sensations can all contribute to some extra irritability on your part.
Extreme tiredness is one of the earliest pregnancy signs some women experience. As your baby grows and requires more nourishment from your body, it’s only logical that you could feel drained and tired. Your expanding belly and frequent need to run to the bathroom can also prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.
Patience can run thin when you feel foggy and tired, and difficulties that you could normally handle with a minimum of effort can suddenly seem like the end of the world.
Anxiety About Your Baby and Parenting
You can’t help but wonder exactly what is going inside your pregnant belly at any given moment, but sometimes this curiosity can lead to worry that your baby may not be healthy or developing properly.
You may also feel anxiety about the upcoming changes a new baby will bring to your life. Whether this is your first child or not, having a new member in the family will inevitably alter your current routine.
That feeling of uncertainty about the future or persistent worry about your baby’s well-being could leave you in a snappish mood.
Perceived or Actual Unfair Treatment
Not being able to do all the things you normally do and having to experience the discomforts of pregnancy while everyone else gets to continue on with their usual lives can be enough to put you in a sour mood.
You may also face some difficult circumstances in your workplace. Some pregnant women encounter discrimination in promotions or other job duties, while others might feel that they are on the receiving end of condescending treatment.
Why It’s Important to Deal With Anger
Emotions like anger and bitterness not only feel miserable, but they can also be detrimental to your physical health, your baby’s development and your relationships with other people.
Negative Effects on You
The occasional angry response is a totally normal and healthy reaction if the situation truly calls for it. However, when angry feelings happen frequently or aren’t dealt with properly, they can affect your body in several ways:
- Your heart rate increases.
- Your blood pressure goes up.
- You could have a feeling of chest tightness.
- You may have difficulty relaxing and sleeping well.
- You may get headaches.
Pregnancy itself already places extra demands on you physically, and the additional stress of uncontrolled anger can tax your body even more.
Negative Effects on Your Baby
Your body carefully regulates blood flow through the placenta to supply your baby with the oxygen and nutrients he or she needs. High maternal blood pressure can restrict blood flow and reduce the number of critical elements getting to your baby.
Research shows that babies born to mothers with uncontrolled anger issues are often smaller and seem to be less restful in the womb. After birth, these babies show higher levels of adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol, and they also displayed less optimal sleep patterns.
Negative Effects on Your Relationships
Your partner may not be comfortable talking with you about his thoughts and concerns for the baby if he is afraid of how you may react. Your friends may not want to hang out as much if you can’t seem to help but complain.
Your loved ones probably understand to a degree that pregnancy can be hard on a mother at times. However, uncontrolled angry outbursts and holding onto bitterness could drive wedges between you and the people you love when you need them the most.
How to Deal With Anger
Your anger may seem to come on you suddenly and from out of nowhere, and that might leave you feeling powerless over your emotions.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take that might help you avoid those angry moments in the first place, and there are also ways you can constructively deal with your anger when it happens.
Take Some Time to Calm Down and View the Situation Objectively
It’s not always possible, but sometimes the best way to deal with a triggering event is to walk away for a while. Spend a few minutes meditating, praying or taking some deep breaths.
Chances are your anger will start to fade when you remove yourself from the situation temporarily, and you can also avoid saying something that may come to regret later.
Furthermore, spending a few minutes alone can help you get a realistic perspective on the situation. Even though you may feel like it, it’s highly unlikely that your loved ones are purposely trying to irritate you.
Try to develop the habit of intentionally believing the best about people. This can encourage those angry feelings to dissipate and help you better appreciate your loved ones.
Acknowledge Your Anger and Its Effects on Others
It’s almost certain that you haven’t intentionally tried to hurt anyone with your angry words or bitter treatment, but just because you don’t do it purposely doesn’t mean others have no cause to feel hurt.
Acknowledging other people’s feelings and apologizing for your actions can go a long way towards healing for both of you. When you take responsibility for your behavior and sincerely apologize, people are far more likely to be sympathetic and receptive to the fact that something is going on inside you that you can’t fully understand, control or explain.
Talk About Your Feelings Honestly
Trying to explain what is bothering you while you’re in the heat of anger almost never works out well, so wait until you aren’t angry to address issues with your partner or another person.
When you feel calm, share your feelings and difficulties honestly. Use statements that show you take responsibility for your feelings and behavior, but also make sure to state the specific event that made you angry. For example, you could say something like, “I felt very frustrated when you didn’t wash the dishes after you said you would.”
Don’t use your pregnancy as an excuse, but the fact of the matter is that hormones or pregnancy discomforts can be a large part of your anger. Ask your loved ones to try to have extra patience with you over these months of pregnancy.
Care for Yourself
Irritation and angry responses can happen much more easily when you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Taking some time to relax and do something you enjoy can help you feel more rested, energized and better equipped to face challenges in a healthy way.
Try to set aside time daily to do something for yourself. Even if it’s something simple and you only have a few minutes, make taking care of yourself a priority. Here are a few suggestions you may want to consider:
- Take a warm bath.
- Read a book or check out your favorite websites.
- Work on a hobby.
- Go on a walk.
- Meet a friend to catch up.
- Call a loved one.
- Watch your favorite TV show or movie.
Express Your Feelings in Writing
Writing down your thoughts and frustrations can help you sort out why you may be feeling the way you do and give you some insights on how to avoid certain situations in the future.
Writing can also be incredibly helpful in the middle of an angry episode. Instead of saying the things you want to say, write them down instead. This allows you to get the words and emotions out, but on paper instead of directing them at someone else. Once you feel calmer, the act of tearing up or throwing out the paper can symbolize your permanent release of those negative emotions.
Regular journaling can also help you identify some potentially triggering situations. If you notice that you have angry feelings to record every time you do a certain activity or spend time with a certain person, you may be able to take steps to reduce or eliminate your exposure to the trigger or come up with healthy ways to combat the specific stressful situation.
Exercise can help you feel better and think more clearly in a couple of different ways.
- Being physically active stimulates your brain to release endorphins, the substances that are responsible for happy and contented feelings.
- Concentrating on a physical task can also divert your attention away from the angering situation and give you a chance to have some space to cool down.
- Physical activity gives your body a healthy way to burn off and release the stress associated with negative emotions.
Before beginning any new exercise, make sure to it out check with your healthcare provider. Injuries can happen more easily while you are pregnant, and over-exertion can be harmful to your baby.
Let Yourself Cry
Crying is not a sign of weakness, but is instead a natural way for your body to process and cope with the stress of strong emotions.
Tears can bring healing and a powerful emotional release, so don’t hold back if you feel the waterworks threatening to turn on.
Consider Professional Help
If you still struggle with angry feelings or outbursts after trying some strategies to reduce stress and calm yourself, it may be time to seek outside help.
A therapist can provide a safe place to talk through any feelings of under-appreciation or bitterness towards the people around you, and they can also help you figure out if any underlying concerns from earlier in your life may be coming to the surface now.
Ask your healthcare provider if they can suggest a therapist you could schedule an appointment with.
Will I Ever Be Myself Again?
Especially if you have always been a relaxed and easy-going person, this sudden unexplained anger can come as a shock and leave you feeling like you don’t recognize the person you are.
There is good news, though: This angry stage should be over soon.
As your hormone levels return to a more normal state, pregnancy aches and pains are a thing of the past and you start learning how to live as a mother to your newborn, your emotions should start to even out.
However, make sure you aren’t setting the bar too low. Don’t hope to go back to the person you were before you got pregnant. Rather, aim to be an even better version of yourself.
Whether this is your first baby or you are adding a younger sibling to your family, you will never be exactly the same person as you were before this child entered your life. Many women find that they are capable of greater love, patience and self-sacrifice than they ever thought possible before they became a mother.
It can be really tough to face strong pregnancy emotions, especially if you have been told that these months should be a time of nothing but unparalleled happiness. The truth is that every woman will have a unique pregnancy experience with its own joys and challenges.
Learning more about where your angry feelings may be coming from can help reassure you that you aren’t simply being overly dramatic or making things up. Implementing some strategies to deal with your anger can help you remember that you don’t have to be a victim of your emotions and enable you to have a more peaceful and enjoyable pregnancy.
What about you? Did you struggle with anger or other strong emotions during pregnancy? Do you have any other questions or tips to add? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!