I was a moody mama when I was pregnant. Nary a day went by when I didn't want to unload on a random stranger or my husband. I was not great at being pregnant. In fact, I hated every minute of it, and I noticed that the more pregnant I got, the shorter my temper became. It felt like my emotions were the wick on the dynamite, ready to blow up at any minute. In the days before my son was born, I was more sensitive than ever. I even wondered if getting emotional is a sign of labor, or was I just completely over being pregnant?
Mood swings are a common symptom of pregnancy. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), it's essentially just a fact of life of being pregnant. It's cliché for a reason. But does that level of emo tip all the way towards teenage-goth-crying-in-a-Hot-Topic levels just before birth? According to The Stark Women's Center, it just might. They wrote that "emotional mood swings are common during pregnancy. As the due date approaches or passes, these feelings may increase."
Having been both a teenage goth who cried over chain pants in Hot Topic and a pregnant woman about to go into labor. I'd say they're about dead even in the emo department. Also, I'll add that I still occasionally wear black nail polish.
For me, it went hand-in-hand with the nesting instinct. During each of my pregnancies, I had the need for absolute order as my due date approached. I wanted everything to be clean and tidy, all the baby's clothes to be folded and put away, and I wanted everything just where I thought it should be. If this didn't or couldn't happen, I noticed that I'd become particularly volatile. It got to the point where my husband — a man notorious for just leaving socks everywhere willy nilly — would actually have the laundry picked up before the bag was even full, just so I wouldn't explode.
According to ACOG, your hormones play a huge role in the large swing of emotions during your pregnancy. The National Childbirth Trust of the UK noted that the hormones that bring about labor, specifically oxytocin, estrogen, and progesterone, are abundant in the body as it gears up to deliver, and those hormones — save oxytocin — are the very same hormones cited as the impetus for your flailing emotions throughout your pregnancy. They wrote that these hormones are also likely to make women want to seek the places they perceive as safe, and control their environments in the days leading to labor so that their bodies don't start producing stress hormones, which can delay the process of labor.
Is getting emotional a sign of labor that means the baby is coming right now? Not necessarily. Dr. Mary Kimmel, medical director of the Perinatal Psychiatry Inpatient Unit and an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, told LiveScience that it's more than just the pesky hormones of late pregnancy that cause your emotions to go haywire. Some of those feelings are just plain old rational fear. She says that the fear of having a baby, of delivering safely, and even fear of the hospital itself can trigger a strong emotional response.
It's the perfect cocktail of what your body is doing, and what's happening in your brain that swirls up the pantheon of feelings that seem to let loose at the most inopportune times. Unfortunately, the moodiness doesn't go away overnight after you have your baby, but at least the pesky fear of childbirth dissipates somewhat. Silver linings — take them where you can.