Oh, you noticed that did you, just after being shouted at for making tea in the wrong mug? Yep, it’s the old hormones at it again.
During pregnancy your partner will change. Not just her body shape, but also the way she acts around you and other people.
Just coming home from work and opening the front door becomes a game of pot luck. You just don’t know what’s waiting for you on the other side – a crying woman you want to put your arms around, a smiling partner quietly making dinner (we can dream), or someone who looks a little like the woman you left this morning but holding an axe and standing among the ruins of the telly.
None of this is her fault. She just can’t control herself. Hormones are chemicals that get sent out from various glands in the body to run things. They’re like Sergeant Majors, bellowing orders that simply can’t be ignored. And when a woman becomes pregnant, her hormones leap into action like never before to create the perfect conditions for the baby.
In the early stages she produces:
Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) which aside from getting things ready in the womb and placenta is also thought to be responsible for morning sickness and overwhelming tiredness.
Then there’s progesterone, which allows baby to grow, but also can cause upset stomachs, painful breasts, a bloated feeling and sore legs in Mum. Oops.
Oestrogen is produced for the placenta but it may also be responsible for the magnification of emotions.
Put all that together and you’ve got someone who needs your help and support, however difficult it might be at times.
So during the first few months you’ll have to bite your lip, do a lot of agreeing and apologising and keep reminding yourself that she’s literally out of control. This is a hard time for her and she doesn’t mean the things she says (well, most of them).
Later on, nearer to the time the baby is due, hormones can also induce ‘nesting’, where some women suddenly feel an unstoppable urge to clean and tidy. This is mostly a good thing, as the house will be spotless but beware – she’ll clean every nook and cranny, so best get rid of anything you don’t want her to find.
After the birth hormone levels drop like a stone, so watch out. Along with tiredness and the stress of having a new baby, this slump in hormone levels can make many women moody and down. Again, you have to be strong here and support her through it. She’ll be back to her old self in a while.
In extreme cases the drop in hormone levels can lead to post-natal depression. If you’re worried about her get her to have a word with the GP but for most women there’s nothing that a little understanding won’t cure. Try giving her a bit of time off once in a while.