Do pregnant women have PMS? In short, no. PMS stands for premenstrual syndrome, which implies there is a monthly cycle happening that causes physical and emotional side effects. That being said, do women have mood swings — a term often considered synonymous with PMS-ing — during pregnancy? For sure, there's no denying it!
The instigator of such isn’t the pregnancy, nor are mood swings during a woman’s luteal phase caused by fertility or her period. Rather, it is the ebb and flow of hormones that is responsible for sending some women over the edge during those long nine months. It's the reason husbands and dads-to-be everywhere ask themselves which is worse, his spouse during PMS or during pregnancy.
Of course he's not going to bring these concerns up to his spouse without fear of losing an eyeball, but it's crazy how pregnancy can act just like PMS. Women are often told to expect mood swings and tearfulness while they’re pregnant. Their partners are warned that the woman they loved will surely turn into an irritable storm of emotions that can peak or plummet at the drop of a hat.
In fact, when PMS symptoms are compared with pregnancy symptoms there are some incredibly strong parallels between the two. So much so that it's hard to ignore them once they've been realized and it kind of makes the 40 week hiatus of that time of the month feel like a little inside joke we're not in on.
It might leave some pregnant ladies wondering if they really did escape their monthly friend after all. Read below and see what we're talking about.
15 Antenatal Anxiety
Anxiety is quite common in society today. Around 40 million American people live with anxiety. Despite that, many people suffer from it and don’t even know that what they’re going through has not only a name, but fits a clinical diagnosis.
Women who live with anxiety may find that the sex hormones that rise and fall during their menstrual cycle worsen it. This doesn’t stop during pregnancy. The same hormones are present that escalate anxiety during menses, but during pregnancy there is no bleeding and relief period.
Anxiety stems from a few different places when a woman is expecting. Estrogen is produced in copious amounts during pregnancy. This sex hormone is known for its anxiety-inducing effects. A less-than-perfect diet can also contribute to anxiety since insulin raises cortisol levels and some women may not respond to this chemical response well.
An unbalanced thyroid can also cause intense anxiety, and it just so happens that pregnancy is a key time when conditions like hypothyroidism develop in many women. Subclinical hypothyroidism affects 2 to 3 percent of all pregnancies.
Women who suffer from anxiety during pregnancy may find it difficult to cope with since benzodiazepines — the medication routinely prescribed for the ailment — isn’t safe when growing a baby. Meditation and counseling can go a long way in helping these women. So can a Dad-to-be that takes extra stress off moms shoulders. Hey Dad should be listening to this!
Just the opposite of anxiety, depression during pregnancy is often caused by having too little estrogen. Before you worry too much, this doesn’t mean that you aren’t producing adequate amounts of estrogen to support the pregnancy. It simply means your body isn’t adjusting well to having some much progesterone floating around in comparison to lower amounts of estrogen.
Around 52 percent of pregnant women report having increased levels of anxiety or depression. Fortunately, most cases of antenatal depression resolve after birth when the hormone levels adjust to lower levels again. Some women may deal with prolonger depression if they breastfeed. Nursing heightens prolactin which suppresses estrogen and progesterone. Not all women will respond the same way to this natural drop in hormones.
If you’re the type that sobs over Lifetime movies and gushes over A Baby Story when you’re ovulating, watch out! Pregnancy might be like your luteal phase on steroids. Your emotions are in overdrive for nine long months. Now this doesn’t mean you’ll be down in the dumps the whole time, but it’s safe to expect some ups and downs.
Just know that they’re totally normal — as normal as ugly crying like Sally Field in Steel Magnolias gets anyway.
13 All The Rage
This one isn’t talked about very often. There seems to be more shame attached to rage and anger than there is to anxiety and depression. If we think about it, it doesn’t make very much sense that we lend compassion and helpful resources to women who suffer from the blues or worry too much, but those who can’t control their temper or feel irritated by every breath their partner takes don’t deserve such sympathy in our eyes.
This hypocrisy paints a picture of certain pregnancy symptoms being acceptable while others aren’t. The truth is all of these issues have hormonal roots. These don’t want to feel the way they do, and they need help. A supportive partner can do a long way, even though the expectant Mom might feel more like throwing something at her man than leaning on him during this time.
Very little research exists on what causes the irritability these women suffer with. It is thought that it may be a tough combination of fluctuating hormones and progesterone intolerance — a condition many women are unaware of until they find themselves suffering from it during pregnancy. Nonetheless, this too should resolve post-birth. In the meantime, couples can stay together and get through the hard times with counseling and the promise that better days lie ahead.
12 Speaking Of Irritability
Irritability stems from the same place that rage does. It is very often a side effect of progesterone intolerance. For some women, it’s mild irritation similar to what they experience just before they get their period when progesterone plummets. For others, it’s severe and debilitating and threatens their career stability, relationship and home life.
These women may completely snap at the slightest thing that others would only find to be a minor annoyance. Women who battle progesterone intolerance may lash out at their partners, family members, bosses, coworkers, and friends — all seemingly for no good reason. This behavior is usually followed by shame and guilt that are hard to overcome when the nasty behavior just won’t stop bubbling up to the surface.
Since hormone supplementation isn’t an option during pregnancy, women are left to their own devices and often told that pregnancy can make you moody in a manner that suggests they should just shake it off. Those who live with this problem know it’s not that easy. Talking with your midwife, doctor or a homeopath may be helpful.
There might be herbs that are safe for use during pregnancy that can help. If you absolutely must convey to your partner how much their chewing habits annoy you, bounce it off a friend first to test drive how harsh you may sound.
During the week or so before a woman’s period, backache is not unusual. It usually creeps up within the days just before a woman’s period starts and can get intense enough to call off work and lay in bed all day. The cause of this discomfort often comes as a surprise. It’s contractions!
Pregnancy is a little different. Early on in the pregnancy, backache may be caused by a swelling uterus that is applying pressure to organs inside the abdominal cavity. As the uterus, breasts, and body continue to grow, the extra weight load — especially being mostly on the front side — can cause strain on back muscles.
Braxton hicks can be responsible for this PMS-like back pain from around 20 weeks onward.
By the end of nine months, most women have experienced some mild to moderate back pain. Those in the know see their Webster-trained chiropractor regularly to keep their spine aligned, nerves in check and pelvis in place and ready for a safe and progressing birth. Kinesiology tape can help, too.
Its careful placement may require you to get into positions you haven’t mastered since you were trying to conceive, but it works!
10 Water Retention
Who doesn’t love that week or two of slowly accumulating water retention every cycle that makes your rings cut off your circulation and pants fit so tight that you become grateful for the yoga pants are acceptable as clothes trend. Some women — like those who suffer from PMDD — will bloat so much that they need several sizes of pants on hand at all times in their closets.
During pregnancy, bloating is just as intense. We just don’t shun the bloat because we’re happy to see a blossoming belly under our clothes. If I had a dime for every time I saw a post on an Internet forum asking if an 8-week belly bump is the real deal, I’d be a very wealthy woman. The answer is no.
A singleton pregnancy, especially first and second babies, doesn’t even cause the uterus to rise above the pubis until around 12 weeks. Almost all women have the initial bloating that makes them look more pregnant than they are at the time. This water retention and gas is all caused by progesterone.
Around 12-14 weeks, the placenta takes over for progesterone production and that bloating goes down some. Sometime it recedes completely. This is normal; the bump that emerges after this stage is the real thing. Enjoy it!
9 Hello, Dolly!
During a monthly cycle, some women experience breast swelling. Their bra may not fit well. The breasts might be sore, too. Very sore. This is caused by progesterone making milk ducts expand inside the breast — the very same reason breasts are sore in pregnancy. Part of the breast swelling is also water retention.
Your belly certainly isn’t the only thing that will blossom when you’re expecting. This one definitely varies from woman to woman. Usually, if you see any change in breast size, it will start within the first trimester. Yes, if. Not all women have breast growth during pregnancy. Furthermore, most will see a decrease in volume postpartum.
Soreness during pregnancy might present for some women in the first trimester, but also dissipates after such most of the time. Women can expect soreness again after birth when their milk come in. If you thought your breasts were swollen at 14 weeks, just wait until the baby is 4 days old.
This phase — known as engorgement — is temporary and will subside in 24 to 48 hours after a milk supply is either allowed to dry up or further milk production is stimulated. In the meantime, your hubby should be pleased.
While throbbing headaches probably plague more women during their menstrual cycle than they do during pregnancy, those who do suffer from headaches while pregnant know they are more like an ebbing and flowing migraine than a mild annoyance.
Nonetheless, once again hormones are a component that cannot be ignored. Dietary changes often influence the influx of hormones that are bothersome enough to cause headaches.
Sugar, processed foods, food dyes, MSG, and artificial sweeteners can also constrict blood vessels in the head and cause inflammation in the body that leads to headaches — and to debilitating, nausea and aura-inducing migraines. These same issues, coupled with progesterone, actually cause PMS headaches, too.
Over-the-counter pain relief options seem limited during pregnancy, but they really aren’t. Women can medicate this issue with much more than acetaminophen, and other options are actually safer, too. Essential oils, massage, chiropractic adjustment, heat and ice packs, yoga, and exercise are all beneficial to releasing the tension that often contributes to these headaches. Consider this preparation for parenthood.
7 Joint Pain
PMS causes joint pain for many women. This discomfort is usually a result of water retention that makes the joints stiff and swollen. During this time, it may be difficult to wear rings, type or work with one’s hands as well as usual. For anyone joint pain is a pain in the...well, hands.
While this joint pain is usually temporary, a week at most, during pregnancy, joint pain can last months up until birth and sometimes a few days-weeks after birth. So while non-pregnant women might have it bad for a week, their pregnant counterparts have it that much worse for that much longer.
Rosemary essential oil is often recommended to women who suffer from premenstrual joint pain, but it is important to note this EO is not considered safe for use during pregnancy. Women who have joint pain consistently outside of pregnancy, even in the follicular phase of their cycle, should explore additional causes, such as arthritis.
Teenaged acne should stay where it belongs on the bodies of teenagers. Unfortunately, many women will suffer the effects of this all over again when they’re pregnant. As adrogynous hormones like testosterone mount during those long nine months, they lead to excess sebum production that builds up and causes more breakouts.
Estrogen doesn’t help this process at all since it is rising but still lower than progesterone for the majority of a woman’s pregnancy. Without the proper balance of these hormones for the skin, dead skin tends to slough off at a slower pace, making it easier for all that oil to get trapped under it and build up. Premenstrual breakouts are also signaled by androgens and dropping progesterone and estrogen.
While salicylic acid may be helpful during that time to rid the face and body of dead skin and excess oils, it’s not approved for safe use during pregnancy. Regular exfoliating and apple cider vinegar as an astringent can do wonders to promote a glowing pregnancy complexion, though. Hey, we all wish we were younger at one time or another; be careful what you wish for.
5 Nap Time
There is no getting around the need for extra sleep during that premenstrual week. For some, fatigue sets in as soon as they ovulate and doesn’t really allow them to bounce back until their period comes around and balances them out again. The fatigue that pregnancy brings forth can be so intense that it is often the first symptom that arises and gives women the impression they may be pregnant.
In both cases of PMS and pregnancy, fatigue is brought on by the insane amount of work your body is doing at the time. That’s right. Your body I tired, so you feel tired. It’s that simple. When your period is on its way, your uterus is busy shedding its interior layer and expelling it through your body.
This also leads to a drop in magnesium for most women, and that additionally causes fatigue. Supplementation — or being an avid taker of prenatal vitamins when pregnant — and extra rest is the best prescription in both cases.
You might also pick up a lovely snoring habit while pregnant. Don’t worry, you probably won’t hear any of it. Your partner will let you know. All that added weight can even contribute to sleep apnea in some cases. Sleeping semi-propped up on pillows may help, as does side-sleeping. If the Dad-to-be has any complaints, take a page from the PMS book and show him the couch.
4 Incessant Cravings
Oh the joys of being a woman. If bloating so much that your favorite jeans don’t fit this week wasn’t enough, cravings that lead you to eat enough that they won’t fit next week will do you in. Common culprits include salty snacks like chips and sweets such as chocolate. In fact, the latter is perhaps the most common period-related craving and it’s got a simpler fix.
It is due to a loss of magnesium during the week preceding your period starting. Take a side of magnesium with your chocolate and call it a day.
Ice cream and pickles may not be the desire of every pregnant woman’s appetite. Still, cravings affect most expectant moms at one time or another, even if they aren’t strange and unusual. Some women may even crave nonfood substances while they’re pregnant. This condition, known as Pica, is usually rooted in nutrient deficiency and can exist outside of pregnancy, too.
A well-balanced diet and vitamin regimen can usually ward off cravings, but during pregnancy, deficiency isn’t the problem. In fact, the research is still unclear on what causes Moms-to-be to suddenly need a hot fudge sundae at three in the morning. Moderation is key, but it’s harmless to indulge in these cravings if you have no medical conditions that preclude you from it. Enjoy this part of pregnancy.
3 One Too Many Bathroom Breaks
As with everything else in our bodies, our bowel habits are very much influenced by hormones. Estrogen tends to lead to constipation. This can further complicate matters if hemorrhoids are a problem. Witch hazel and avoiding prolonged sitting or standing can help.
In contrast, progesterone is also constantly building throughout pregnancy and it can lead the bowels in the opposite direction. If you’re running to the bathroom all pregnancy long and it’s not because you have to pee so much, you are probably a little more sensitive to progesterone than you previously knew.
Progesterone also slows down the digestive system overall. The stomach takes longer to break down food and the intestines take longer to filter it and absorb nutrients. Exercise, as well as a healthy diet with an adequate amount of fiber, can help to move the bowels along, but not too fast.
Bleeding before your period or during pregnancy can both be cause for concern, or they may mean nothing. When it comes to periods, irregularity can easily account for bleeding if Aunt Flo simply shows up early. However, if you’re having spotting that isn’t indicative of your period starting, it could signal a problem with cysts or low progesterone — especially if it’s brown in color.
Spotting in pregnancy is usually more concerning. It’s something most women hope they never have to deal with, because they all know it could mean miscarriage, placental abruption or a host of other problems. The good news is that up to 40 percent of women have bleeding while pregnant and most have no issues with it.
Many women are told that spotting is only harmful in pregnancy if it’s red because that would mean it’s fresh. This isn’t actually true. Red blood can be normal, too. Placental lakes, cervical bleeding and many unexplained causes of bleeding occur throughout pregnancy that never harm the baby or the momma.
If you find yourself pregnant and bleeding, rest, call your provider and don’t worry unless you have to. For most women, bleeding will be absent all pregnancy long. Relish it, ladies!
Cramps are a fact of life for most women. Some will be harassed by them from the start of their very first period. Others may never encounter them, but there’s no need to pay attention to those women. Just kidding; I used to be one of them. Then pregnancy happens and it can change everything.
Premenstrual cramps are pretty cut and dry; they happen when the uterine lining starts to shed and the uterus contracts as a result. Some women will feel these small contractions and some won’t. During pregnancy, practice contractions known as Braxton hicks may begin halfway through the pregnancy and the contractions that show up at the end are unforgettable.
Apart from those, cramping during pregnancy isn’t unusual either. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything is happening with your uterus or baby at all either. In fact, as the uterus grows, it pushes the intestines upward in the abdomen. Thus, cramping may be felt all over the place and be nothing more than gas and food digesting.
Fiber and papaya enzymes can help. Worrying won’t. Pregnancy is full of unexpected events and at the end of it, the worries will fade away as wonder and astonishment takes over. My advice: let it.