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During pregnancy, you'll probably experience emotional highs and lows. Fluctuating hormone levels, your changing body, fatigue, physical discomforts and the emotional upheaval of preparing for motherhood can all wreak havoc on your emotions. Mood swings are strongest during the first six to 10 weeks and the last trimester, says the American Pregnancy Association—but you don't have to let them rule you. Take a proactive approach to address emotional angst.
Exercise may be the last thing you want to do when you're feeling physically uncomfortable or emotionally blue, but even a 10-minute walk can lift your spirits. Exercise releases serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical, and it also relieves stress and discomfort. Stick with gentle exercises, such as walking or swimming. Yoga offers not only the physical benefits of exercise but also the calming effects of meditation and slow breathing.
Talk It Out
Having a baby is probably the biggest life change you'll ever make. It's no wonder then that you might feel overwhelmed, irritable or anxious. Worries about your relationship with your partner, finances or your ability to mother are bound to affect your mood. Talk with your partner, friends or your doctor about your fears. Try writing down your feelings, suggests physician Aviva Jill Romm, author of "The Natural Pregnancy Book." She says journaling can help you process and work out fears, boosting your mood and renewing your energy. Talk with experienced moms, and think about your own strengths and needs to find solutions to your concerns.
The Art of Distraction
Sometimes just a change of scenery can improve your mood. As the self-help mantra goes -- move a muscle, change a mood. This applies to distraction as well as exercise. When you're feeling down, do something you love. Go to a movie, paint or draw, visit an art museum or put on music that makes you feel good. Go out to lunch with a friend.
A Healthy Snack
During pregnancy, your body's nutritional needs increase. A poor diet and low blood sugar can contribute to depression or mood swings, Romm writes. To boost your mood, eat a snack containing whole grains and protein, such as cheese and whole-grain crackers, or yogurt and granola. Drink at least 8 cups of fluid everyday, including water, herbal teas, and fresh fruit and vegetable juices. Dehydration can cause irritability and depression too, Romm notes.
Today's culture may tend to view feelings of sadness or anger negatively, and pregnant women may feel pressure to discount or hide their feelings, Romm observes. Instead, acknowledge and value your feelings as important. Talk with your doctor or a counselor if you experience changes in sleep and eating habits, or severe anxiety.