Psychological Changes in Pregnancy


The various changes that a woman undergoes during pregnancy entirely sweep the entirety of the human body. Almost every aspect is altered, hormones get together to create a whole new modifications in the mind, the body, and the emotions. Psychological aspects would also be given a new perspective as it also alters together with the rest of the woman’s body.

How a Woman Responds to Pregnancy

Mood swings, grief, changes in sexual desires, and stress are only some of the psychological changes that a pregnant woman experiences. The couple might misinterpret these changes, so health education must be integrated in the care of the pregnant woman.



  • Grief may arise from the realization that one’s roles would be changed permanently.
  • A pregnant woman would be weaned off her role as a dependent daughter, or as a happy-go-lucky girl, or a friend who is always available.
  • Even the partner would have to leave the roles or the life he has been accustomed to as a man without a child to support.

Mood Swings

  • Also known as emotional lability, this psychological reaction can be caused by two factors: hormonal changes or narcissism.
  • The comments that she had brushed off in her nonpregnant state can now touch a nerve or hurt her.
  • Crying is a common manifestation of mood swings, during and even after the pregnancy.

Changes in Sexual Desire

  • Women who are on the first trimester of pregnancy experience a decrease in libido mainly because of breast tenderness, nausea, and fatigue.
  • On the second trimester, sexual libido may rise because of increased blood flow to the pelvic area that supplies the placenta.
  • The third trimester might bring an increase or decrease in sexual libido due to an increase in the abdominal size or difficulty in finding a comfortable position.
  • Estrogen increase may also affect sexual libido as it may bring a loss of desire.
  • The couple must be informed that these changes are normal to avoid misunderstanding the woman’s attitude.


  • Pregnancy is a major change in roles that could cause stress.
  • The stress that a pregnant woman feels might affect her ability to decide.
  • The discomforts that she may feel could also add up to the stress she is experiencing.
  • Assess whether the woman is in an abusive relationship as it may contribute further to the stress.


  • Introversion refers to someone who focuses entirely on her own body and a common manifestation during pregnancy.
  • Some pregnant women also manifest extroversion, or acting more active, healthier and more outgoing than before their pregnancy.
  • Extroversion commonly happens to women who had a hard time conceiving and finally hit jackpot.

Social Changes

  • In the past, a pregnant woman is isolated from her family starting from visiting for prenatal consultation until the day of birth.
  • She is isolated from her family and the baby a week after birth.
  • Today, having a support system for pregnant women is highly encouraged, like bringing along someone to accompany her during prenatal visits and allowing the husband to be with the wife during birth if he chooses to.
  • Opinions on teenage pregnancy, late pregnancies, and having the same sex parents are now widely accepted compared to being taboos in the past.

Cultural Changes

  • A pregnant woman’s culture and beliefs may also greatly affect the course of her pregnancy.
  • Assess if the woman and her partner have particular beliefs that might affect the way the take care of the pregnancy so you can integrate them in your plan of care.
  • Despite the modern ages, there are still groups who firmly believe in their culture’s explanations about birth complications and the health care providers must respect this.
  • Myths that surround the pregnancy should always be respected, but the couple should be educated properly regarding what could be dangerous for the fetus’ health.

Family Changes

  • The environment where the woman grew influences the way she would perceive her pregnancy.
  • Family culture and beliefs also affect a woman’s perception of pregnancy.
  • If she is loved as a child, she would have an easy time accepting her pregnancy compared to women who were neglected by her family during childhood.
  • A woman who has been told of disturbing stories about giving birth and pregnancy would view her own in a negative light, while those who grew with beautiful birth stories would more likely be excited for their pregnancy.
  • A positive attitude would only result from a positive outcome and influence from the woman’s own family.

Individual Changes

  • Becoming a new mother is never an easy transition. The woman must first be able to cope with stress effectively, as this is a major concern during pregnancy.
  • She needs to have the ability to adapt effectively to any situation, especially if the pregnancy is her first because there might be a lot of new situations that would arise.
  • Her ability to cope with a major change and manage her temper would be put to a test during motherhood.
  • The woman’s relationship with her partner also affects her ability to accept her pregnancy easily.
  • If she feels secure with her relationship with the father of her child, she would have an easier time accepting her pregnancy as opposed to an unstable relationship where she feels insecure and may doubt the decision of keeping the pregnancy.
  • A woman who feels that the pregnancy may rob her of her looks, her freedom, a promotion, or her youth would need to have a strong support system so she could express her feelings and unburden her chest.
  • The father’s acceptance of the pregnancy also influences the woman’s ability to accept the marriage.
  • Utmost support from her husband would be very meaningful for the woman especially during birth.

The Psychological Tasks of Pregnancy

Both the woman and her husband walk through a tangle of emotions during pregnancy. Accepting that a new life would be born out of your blood is not as easy as others may think. There are several stages that both should undergo, the psychological way.

First Trimester: Accepting the Pregnancy

  • The shock of learning about a new pregnancy is sometimes too heavy for a couple, so it is just proper for the both of them to spend some time recovering from this major life-altering situation and avoid overwhelming themselves at first.
  • One of the most common reactions of a couple who would be having a baby for the first time is ambivalence, or feeling both pleased and unhappy about the pregnancy.

Second Trimester: Accepting the Baby

  • The woman and her partner will start to merge into the role of novice parents as second trimester closes in.
  • Emotions such as narcissism and introversion are commonly present at this stage.
  • Role playing and increased dreaming are activities that help the couple embrace their roles as parents.
  • At this stage, the woman and her partner must start to concentrate on what it will feel like to be parents.

Third Trimester: Preparing for the Baby

  • The couple starts to grow impatient as birth nears.
  • Preparations for the baby, both small and big, takes place during this stage.
  • The baby’s clothing and sleeping arrangements are set and the couple is excited for his arrival.

The transition of a woman from the start until the end of the pregnancy is a big turning point for her and the people who surround her. Every single one of them must be prepared physically, mentally and emotionally because pregnancy is also considered a crisis in life; something that could turn your world upside down.


Marianne is a staff nurse during the day and a Nurseslabs writer at night. She is a registered nurse since 2015 and is currently working in a regional tertiary hospital and is finishing her Master's in Nursing this June. As an outpatient department nurse, she is a seasoned nurse in providing health teachings to her patients making her also an excellent study guide writer for student nurses. Marianne is also a mom of a toddler going through the terrible twos and her free time is spent on reading books!