When you thought of becoming pregnant, you might have imagined that you’d be cradling your bump, lovingly cooing at it, and baking it up like Betty Crocker. But you’ve noticed that instead of feeling exhilarated, you’re more, well, incensed. While everyone’s entitled to a bad day here or there, you’re grateful if you don’t gouge someone’s eyes out. If pregnancy was in your plans, well, why are you irate all the damn time, then? Chalk it up to something called pregnancy rage, and it’s a very real thing.
What Is Pregnancy Rage?
Being occasionally cranky because you’re subsisting on a diet of crackers and ginger ale due to morning sickness is completely normal. Feeling angry and irritable to the point that it takes over is entirely another. And if you had to pinpoint a culprit, you’d be right in guessing that those lovely hormones are to blame. “Pregnancy rage is explained as when emotions are uncharacteristically different due to changes in hormones,” Dr. Jessica Shepherd, MD, an OB/GYN and Verwell Health’s Chief Medical Officer explains to Romper. “This is when in pregnancy, the body has a significant change in estrogen and progesterone that can trigger moodiness.”
Is Pregnancy Rage Common?
If you thought you were the only pissed off preggo walking around, you’re not. In fact, it’s estimated that 1 in 7 pregnant women are affected by some sort of mood or emotional wellbeing, making it the most common pregnancy complication, Dr. Lauren Demosthenes, MD, an OB/GYN and Senior Medical Director with Babyscripts tells Romper. “Adapting to pregnancy can cause stress both physically and emotionally,” says Dr. Demosthenes. “An unplanned pregnancy (about 50% of pregnancies are unplanned) or a planned pregnancy brings with it adjustments to a new body, new symptoms, possible sleep disruption, and more.” And when you’re expecting, one of the biggest emotions you might experience is anger.
When Does Pregnancy Rage Occur?
Unfortunately, there isn’t one specific frame during pregnancy when you might feel the effects of pregnancy rage. While that doesn’t make your nine months a free-for-all, if you were to experience pregnancy rage, it would most likely be during the earlier part of your pregnancy. “Most of the hormone changes that are significant in range and levels are in the first trimester and early second trimester,” Dr. Shepherd explains. Still, it can pop at any point in pregnancy. “Pregnancy rage is not a diagnosis and women will have responses to hormones at various times during pregnancy and after,” she adds.
Can Pregnancy Rage Affect Your Baby?
A racing heart and shaking hands certainly aren’t healthy for you, and that might make you wonder if those negative physical feelings and emotions can affect your happy little fetus floating in your womb. Well, it can. In a PubMed study, researchers found that pregnant women who experienced high levels of anger during their second trimester of pregnancy had fetuses who were more active and more likely to experience growth delays. Additionally, the moms’ higher levels of prenatal cortisol and adrenaline (along with their lower levels of dopamine and serotonin) were also mirrored by their babies. Plus, when the babies were born, their sleep patterns were muddled, making it harder for them to get good sleep. “Maternal mood disorders can have an effect on the fetus as well, leading to premature labor and delivery and poor growth of the fetus,” says Dr. Demosthenes. “If not addressed in the pregnant person, this can continue in the postpartum period as postpartum depression.” In short, what you’re feeling, your baby feels, both in the womb and after birth.
Here’s What You Can Do About Pregnancy Rage
Although you might not be able to control your every emotion (and no one is expecting you to be happy all the time, either), if you’re feeling angrier than normal, you might want to speak to your healthcare provider about it — and be honest about how you’re feeling, since it’s not your fault. “The ACOG recommends that all women be screened for mood and emotional well-being during pregnancy — with many providers doing the screening at the first prenatal visit,” says Dr. Demosthenes. “If a woman is experiencing any issues — such as depression, anxiety, anger, sadness — counseling and/or medications are appropriate.” You can also be screened at your postpartum visit to ensure that you’re not suffering from postpartum depression, either.
In the meantime, there are things you can do to alleviate the anger you might be feeling. “Having a supportive system is always helpful and can be found in a spouse, partner, family and also pregnancy groups,” says Dr. Shepherd. “Also, therapeutic services such as yoga, meditation and therapists can help with restoration of mood.”
Pregnancy rage is not something to be ashamed of. If your emotions are getting the better of you, speak to your doctor to see about ways to feel better. Both you and Baby will be a whole lot happier that you did.
Field, T., Diego, M., Hernandez-Reif, M., Salman, F. Schanberg, S., Kuhn, C., Yando, R., Bendell, D. “Prenatal anger effects on the fetus and neonate” 2002.
Dr. Jessica Shepherd, MD, an ob/gyn and Verwell Health’s Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Lauren Demosthenes, MD, an ob/gyn and Senior Medical Director with Babyscripts