Pregnancy is a highly emotional time in the lives of most women. Some women find themselves feeling angry despite believing that pregnancy should be a happy, blissful time. Though strong emotional swings frequently are attributed to hormones and biological processes, there also are many stresses in pregnancy that cause anger.
Sociologist Barbara Katz Rothman points out that women frequently experience discrimination and inequality during pregnancy. Employers might assume that pregnant women will not return to work, or make it difficult to obtain maternity leave. Partners might be unsupportive or uninterested in the pregnancy, or might not do their fair share of chores around the house. Pregnant women also are forced to grapple with work-life balance issues and might begin to worry that their partners might not share equally in parenting or that parenting might interfere with work. These are all common sources of anger.
"What to Expect When You're Expecting" reports that many couples fight more frequently during pregnancy because of these sorts of issues. To cope with this anger and anxiety, talk openly and honestly with your partner about future plans and stand up for yourself if you experience any variety of employment discrimination.
Most women experience some discomfort during pregnancy, including nausea, muscle pain and fatigue. This discomfort frequently causes a shorter fuse, particularly if a pregnant woman feels that some of her needs are not being met. It's important for pregnant women to take proactive steps to create a comfortable environment. For example, ensure that bland food is available to prevent nausea, that you get plenty of sleep and that you have supportive and comfortable furniture. Treat yourself to a massage, a day at the spa or another relaxing venture to ease the physical tension that so frequently causes psychological tension.
Hormonal shifts during pregnancy tend to make women more prone to strong emotions, including anger. These emotions, however, do not come out of nowhere. Typically, women experiencing hormonal anger react with severe anger to something that previously might have been mildly upsetting. To avoid this, it's important to know your triggers. Talk to your partner and friends about subjects that are particularly touchy for you. Practice deep-breathing exercises and count to 10 before responding to an upsetting comment.
Many people react to fear with anger as a protective strategy. Pregnancy has the capacity to cause great fear, ranging from concerns about the pain of labor to fears about birth defects, illnesses and how to balance having kids with having a life. If you find that you're overwhelmed by fear, consider talking to a mental health professional who has experience working with pregnant women. Talk to your obstetrician about ways to minimize common risks associated with pregnancy and remind yourself that the overwhelming majority of pregnancies have no serious complications and result in happy, healthy babies.
- "Child Psychology"; Robin Harwood, et al.; 2008
- "The Pregnancy Book"; William Sears, et al.; 1997
- "What to Expect When You're Expecting"; Heidi Murkoff, et al.; 2008
- "Recreating Motherhood"; Barbara Katz Rothman; 2000