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Q&A: Ways to deal with emotions during pregnancy?

How can I curb the random bursts of tears (at least in public)?  I have never been one to be emotional regardless of the time of month and now I cry at the drop of a hat!  It's so frustrating -- what’s up?

Re: How can I curb the random bursts of tears (at least in public)?  I have never been one to be emotional regardless of the time of month and now I cry at the drop of a hat!  It's so frustrating -- what’s up?

The Bump Expert

Erika Lenkert: During the course of writing The Real Deal Guide to Pregnancy, more than a few mommies expressed to me how unprepared they were for the emotional side of pregnancy. The physical effects were obvious enough, but no one can truly understand that the crazy hormone cocktail the pregnant body is continually swilling can momentarily propel even the most relaxed, jovial mommy-to-be into states of belligerence, hopelessness, or fury over things as trivial as a television commercial or missing tub of ice cream. While I don't have a secret trick to help you eliminate mood swings, I do have some tips on how to embrace and work with them:

Accept that you are no longer in control and go with the flow. Fighting uncontrollable emotions is infinitely more exhausting and traumatizing than simply accepting and embracing them. Take a step back from yourself and you may even find awe and amusement at this amazing ride your body is taking you on. 

Get some exercise. Breaking a sweat isn't addictive for nothing. Getting into a workout groove encourages your brain to release endorphins, the body's naturally occurring painkiller that is deployed whenever you are subjected to pain or stress. Try a brisk walk or take a swim. It may keep you in a happier headspace.

Keep food on hand at all times. One surefire way to incite the wild woman in you is to let yourself get good and hungry.

Watch what you eat. Whether you're trying to tame your tears or your inner fire-breathing dragon, gulping down sugar, caffeine, chocolate, or all of the above can feed the flames. Stick with good mood food -- the healthy stuff.

Rest! Everything seems a little harder to bear when you're tired. Get as much beauty sleep as you can finagle. It'll help you to remain resilient. 

Finally, go ahead and have a good cry. Whether pregnant or not, I believe that repressed emotions -- hormonal or otherwise -- can bubble, ferment, and become toxic when they're not released. I screamed into a towel and balled up and cried on the bathroom floor more than once during my pregnancy -- and I felt much better after the fact every single time. If you happen to have an outburst in public, just shrug to the people around you and offer two perfect-explanation words, "I'm pregnant."

Erika Lenkert