Experts have long known there’s a strong connection between hormones and chemicals in the brain, and the incredible surge of hormones that occurs during pregnancy can have a dramatic effect – not least on your levels of serotonin, a major mood-affecting chemical.
For many of us, the first few months of pregnancy are the toughest, at least when it comes to dealing with our emotions.
So how are you meant to cope with all these fluctuating moods? Prof Gross stresses it’s important not to beat yourself up.
Sometimes, pregnant women feel more than just tearful or fed up. As Anna, from Newcastle, NSW, mum to three-month old Jed, recalls: “I’d been told about the ‘emotional rollercoaster’, but for me it was an understatement. I felt utterly depressed all of the time, lethargic, and couldn’t stop crying. In the end, my GP referred me for counselling, which certainly helped. But the depression didn’t really lift until after Jed was born.”
Studies have shown that chemicals released by your body when you feel sad or happy can be passed via the placenta to your baby. “But as long as most of the time things are going along smoothly, a few days or hours of gloom aren’t going to have any impact,” says Prof Gross. And worrying about it will only make things worse.