“You know you’ll feel better if you eat well and exercise,” midwife Alison Merry says. “But when you’re tired and feeling unattractive, it’s easy to convince yourself you can’t, or there’s no point.”
Create new goals for yourself that will help you feel positive about pregnancy. Write a list of all the benefi ts of eating well or exercising, such as a healthier baby, more energy, better sleep, less indigestion and a brighter mood. Refer to it when you’re about to skip the gym. “Remember,” she adds. “We all need a day in bed from time to time. So, if need be, allow yourself one day to wallow, but use your motivation list to make plans for the next day.”
“The second and third trimesters can be the most stressful,” says clinical hypnotherapist Andrew Johnson. “You’re tired and you want to be focusing on your baby, but you’re probably still working.”
The easiest way to shift your mood and restore calm when stress is taking over is to do a simple breathing exercise, called diaphragmatic or belly breathing. Sit down, feet flat on the floor, one hand over your belly button and one over your chest. Close your eyes and become aware of your breath slowly moving down, so your belly expands outwards when you breathe in, and contracts as you exhale. He explains, “Focusing on this deeper breathing relaxes the muscles in your body. It’s a deceptively powerful way of restoring clarity of thought.”
“It’s normal to feel down sometimes, especially during pregnancy when you’ve so much on your mind,” notes clinical psychologist Linda Blair.
A simple diet change can improve your mood. “Omega-3 essential fatty acids are crucial for the eye and brain development of your unborn child, and also for your mood and energy levels,” points out nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville. “Start taking it now and continue after your baby is born, to help prevent postnatal depression. The B vitamins help regulate energy and mood.”
If low moods go on for four to five days or longer, and are affecting your day-to-day life, speak to your doctor. “Antenatal depression is more common than people realise. Hormones may be the cause and it often lifts at the baby’s birth,” says Blair.