The uncertainty brought about by Covid-19 means many of us are experiencing a level of emotion we haven’t felt before – and you might have particularly noticed this if you’re pregnant.
Perhaps you’ve been feeling particularly anxious, have taken to overly worrying about things, or have found yourself feeling more fearful than you usually would in a challenging situation.
If this is the case, it can be helpful to recognise that pregnancy hormones might be influencing how you think and feel.
Certain hormones, such as progesterone and oestrogen, dramatically surge during pregnancy. As well as supporting foetal development, these hormones are playing important roles in getting your body ready physically for carrying, delivering and nurturing your child.
And it’s not just physical changes. These surging hormones also intensify emotions. So, when pregnant, we can find ourselves more sensitive to worry, fear and possible threats. In fact, it’s been shown that as pregnancy progresses, expectant women become better at recognising the emotions on other peoples’ faces. This applies particularly to emotions – such as fear, disgust, or anger – that suggest a threat. Overall our sensitivity level goes up.
What’s the evolutionary reason for this?
As with the physical changes, it’s believed that this intensifying of emotions is also preparation for having a baby. It’s likely mums-to-be are learning how to be focussed on their offspring and alert to the many different facial, vocal and physical cues that the baby will give. Being able to recognise and interpret these cues will help to protect the baby from harm.
So, if you’re feeling more anxious than you used to, it’s helpful to recognise that you might be more sensitive to your surroundings.
And on the flipside, you could find happier and loving emotions are more intense too, as pregnancy hormones are also getting you ready to be loving and nurturing to your child.
So, we might ask ourselves, how do we move from the anxiety of threat sensitivity to the comfort of nurturing sensitivity?
Meditation, yoga, self-care, gentle exercise especially in nature, calming or uplifting music and talking to a supportive friend are all things that can help.
Pregnancy hormones are amazing substances.