It is common to experience mood swings during pregnancy, as your body goes through massive physical and hormonal changes, and as you adjust to the emotional reality of becoming a mother. Most of these changes are undetectable to anyone but yourself, but your husband certainly feels the change if he is on the receiving end of a sudden mood swing!
It's only fair to prepare your spouse for these mood swings so that he, too, can cope with the realities of pregnancy and fatherhood. If you don't have any idea how to start the conversation, here are a few tips to get things rolling:
Take an honest look at your needs, both physical and emotional, and then communicate them to your spouse. Are you afraid of going into labor? Are you afraid that you won't measure up as a mom? Or perhaps you're worried that your spouse no longer finds you attractive? Whatever's bugging you, be sure to let your spouse know. Then give him an opportunity to respond. Even if his answer isn't exactly what you want to hear, it's important to keep the lines of communication open.
Ask for Help
Think of ways in which your husband can assist you, and then be very specific about communicating these needs to him. For example, instead of saying, "I need more help around the house," say, "I need you to do the dishes after dinner so I can rest for a while." By specifically stating how he can help, and giving it a time frame (ie. after dinner), this decreases the guesswork for him, and increases your chance of getting the help you need.
Assure Him Mood Swings are Normal
Make sure your husband understands that mood swings are normal. Enlist a third party to confirm this, so you get a little backup. Bring your spouse along to an OB/GYN or midwife appointment, and let your healthcare professional explain it. Have him read all the passages about mood swings in your pregnancy books. It often helps to have confirmation from a neutral source.
Encourage His Involvement
Let your husband participate by getting him involved in the pregnancy. Let him run interference if a particular relative or situation drives your blood pressure through the roof. Let him tackle a particular aspect of pregnancy--make him learn more about prenatal nutrition, and let him be your personal nutritionist and trainer. If he's involved in the pregnancy, he's engaged in it, and that means he is more receptive (and supportive) of your moods.
Give Him Guy Time
Just as it's important for you to have your own time and space during the pregnancy, encourage your husband to have his. Let him have "guy time," or let him work on projects. Let him be the one to have a bad day every now and then. Encouraging his own independence even as you develop yours, should make him that much more supportive of you and the baby.
Mood swings generally balance out after the 1st trimester, as your hormonal changes slow and you grow more accustomed to being pregnant. By getting your spouse's support during those first few months, you can face mood swings together.
Sarah Baker is a documentary filmmaker and writer currently living in New Bern, NC. Her first book, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, will be published December 2009. Read more about her.