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Why can't I control my emotions?
Q: I'm 14 weeks pregnant, and I can't seem to control my emotions. I think I'm driving my husband crazy!

A: I'm sorry you're having a hard time with your emotions. If it's any consolation, you're not alone. The roller coaster you seem to be riding is characteristic of pregnancy. While some women appear to exude vitality and happiness throughout their pregnancy, others have bouts of anxiety, tearfulness and depression. Many women swing between highs and lows, often with no apparent reason for their change of moods.

There are a number of reasons why pregnancy can trigger unstable moods. First, pregnancy is a time of hormonal upheaval. The hormonal changes of the first three months of pregnancy can make the hormone fluctuations of PMS seem mild in comparison. Second, pregnancy is a major life-changing event. Expectant moms face changes in their work, their finances, their social life and their primary relationships. That's a lot for anyone to deal with, even without the added hormonal surges. Third, pregnancy can affect your sleep pattern and energy. Women who have difficulty securing regular sleep may feel irritable, fatigued and less emotionally resilient.

Additionally, pregnancy causes some women to feel out of control and can raise apprehensions about new body changes, and future expectations for labor, delivery and parenting. As pregnancy progresses, your pregnancy will become more public and this can lead to unsolicited advice and expectations from others.

If you feel out of control, it's important for you to share this with your husband. Let him know that you may be reacting more strongly that you wish, and find time for intimacy and relaxation. Try to come up with strategies together to help each of you get the support you need during this intense time of life. If you would like additional assistance or think that your relationship is strained, consider individual or couple's counseling for added insight and support.
Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist