Pregnancy and childbirth mark a significant life transition for a woman and her family. The profound changes that take place occur on many levels, including the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual.
Whilst most of the focus is on the amazing physical changes that occur in pregnancy for women, it is affirming and important to acknowledge the very normal and even universal emotional themes that run through the trimesters of pregnancy and the preparation for birth.
Pregnancy is a time of acute and heightened emotions due to the massive amount of circulating hormones that are integral to the normal growth and development of the unborn baby.
The first hormone to make its appearance after conception is human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG); it is hCG that is picked up by a urine or blood test to determine pregnancy.
In a normal pregnancy, the level of hCG approximately doubles about every two days during the first 10 weeks, this is indeed tiring and emotional work!!!
hCG keeps the predominant pregnancy hormones known as oestrogen and progesterone at their appropriate levels until the placenta has developed enough to take over this function.
This occurs at around the 12-week mark, or at the beginning of the second trimester.
Oestrogen is considered as the big kahuna of pregnancy hormones and is vital to the healthy progression of a pregnancy.
This busy hormone produced by the ovaries and later by the placenta, helps the uterus to grow, maintains the uterine lining and activates and regulates the production of other essential hormones.
The other predominant hormone of pregnancy is progesterone, which is manufactured first by the ovaries and then the placenta, where it takes over around the beginning of the second trimester.
Progesterone keeps the placenta functioning properly and the uterine lining healthy and thick and promotes the growth of breast tissue.
It is no surprise that given the enormous surges and fluctuations in these circulating hormones during pregnancy, that pregnancy is often described as an emotional rollercoaster, where women can experience rapid highs and lows, sometimes even in the course of minutes.
Let’s explore some common emotions that may arise for women trimester by trimester.
The first trimester of pregnancy is a time of integrating the fact that you are pregnant, for some women who have really wanted a child this will be a joyous and celebratory time, for others it will be a total surprise, where they will feel stunned, shocked or in total disbelief.
For others who had not planned on a baby, their initial reaction may be to feel very unhappy, stressed and overwhelmed.
There can be a very normal feeling of ambivalence in early pregnancy that is common to an unplanned or unexpected pregnancy.
This can be further exacerbated by the physical discomforts associated with the first trimester; these mums will need extra support and understanding to assist them to integrate their pregnancy.
How your partner responds to your pregnancy news can also greatly influence your emotional state. You may feel angry or disappointed at his response, which may lead to feelings of rejection and depression.
It is important to understand that men can also experience a wide range of emotions in finding out they are going to be a father and that they will also often need time to integrate the news of the pregnancy and their feelings around it.
For those mamas who have had a long and arduous road to achieve a successful pregnancy or to carry a baby to term, those early weeks may be consumed with fear and anxiety that they may lose another desperately wanted baby.
So, whilst some women will be dreading the sore breasts, severe nausea, fatigue, abdominal bloating and constipation that are common to the first trimester, there are others who are…..
You can read the FULL version of this article in our quarterly eZine, ‘Holistic Living Magazine,’ look for Edition 7 on this archive page. There’s many more articles about emotions waiting for you too!
Katie Kempster – Hypnobirthing Expert