Pregnancy The ABC's of Pregnancy Hormones
The ABC’s of Pregnancy Hormones

From morning sickness to swollen breasts, your body is in for a variety of changes throughout your pregnancy. Especially if this is your first pregnancy, you will need a bit of advice as to what you should expect while pregnant.

We may not necessarily go in alphabetical order, but read on as we discuss some of the pregnancy hormones you should be most familiar with when you are expecting a bundle of joy.

A Is For Adrenaline

AAdrenalines silly as it sounds, adrenaline is a major part of your pregnancy. Appearing a little later than the other hormones, adrenaline comes into play while you experience contractions

Labor contractions will become gradually more intense, and natural pain reliving hormones are released. These beta-endorphins, another name for the natural pain relievers, are released and are as powerful as morphine.

Once the body realizes that birth is inevitable, these beta-endorphins flood the body and adrenaline begins to kick in. These hormones surge through the body immediately before birth. This allows the expectant mother to experience a surge of energy for that last final push. Upon delivery, mothers feel an instant bond. This is because of the release of these hormones.

E Is For Estrogen

EstrogenA cyst creates estrogen, which is located in one of the ovaries. This cyst is also known as the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum continues to make estrogen during the first trimester, and then the placenta takes over production from there.

Estrogen plays a pivotal role in the development of the fetus. In addition, estrogen also helps to trigger other important areas of the fetus that are responsible for development.

Estrogen is very important for the proper development of your baby. This hormone helps to activate hormone production within the adrenal glands of the fetus, in addition to stimulating the growth of this gland. Also, estrogen helps to strengthen the mother’s uterus, which will allow it to respond well to oxytocin.

UterusOnce your first trimester is over, your estrogen levels will begin to plateau. Therefore, you do not have to worry about these negative symptoms for long. Some of the negative symptoms of this estrogen spike include spider veins, nausea, a voracious appetite and skin pigment changes.

However, many pregnant women have a glow in the skin with their pregnancy. While this is not exactly common, it does occur and estrogen is to thank for that.

H Is For Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG)

HCG is the most prominent hormone present within your body during pregnancy. This hormone is produce by the placenta. Besides, its job is to prepare a woman’s body for the fetus.

Essentially, HCG tells the body that there will be a fetus inside of it, and that it must begin to prepare by building a safe nest for the baby.

Human Chorionic GonadotropinHCG not only prepares the body by telling it to build a nest, but it also tells the ovaries to cease production of eggs every month. Essentially, HCG tells the body that it is pregnant and no longer in need of a mature egg.

Normally during pregnancy, HCG levels raise a little over a week after ovulation, then they peak anywhere from 60-90 days. And, ultimately lower a little bit to level off for the rest of the pregnancy.

Furthermore, during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, HCG amounts double within the body. The only way for HCG to leave the body is through urine, which is exactly what over-the-counter pregnancy tests are testing for. A large amount of HCG in your urine signals the test that you are in fact pregnant.

The only downside to HCG is that it may cause morning sickness. This would make sense, as HCG levels rise drastically just eight weeks after conception.

O Is For Oxytocin

OxytocinThis hormone is responsible for triggering labor. In fact, when doctors induce labor, they use a drug called Pitocin, which is a synthetic form of oxytocin.

This occurs not because oxytocin levels rise, but, because the uterus becomes extremely sensitive to oxytocin as you near your delivery date.

Oxytocin also helps to make the nipples stimulated and ready to produce milk, as well as stretching the cervix. Think of this hormone as your little helper for delivery. Oxytocin helps to prepare for many of the different things you will need during labor. Such as a stretched cervix, milk, and a strong yet sensitive uterus.

P Is For Progesterone

Similarly to HCG, progesterone is manufactured early in the pregnancy. A cyst within an ovary, called the corpus luteum, creates progesterone. This cyst within the ovary creates progesterone until about 10 weeks into the pregnancy.

The reason the cyst stops manufacturing progesterone after 10 weeks is because the placenta takes over after that time.

ProgesteroneDuring the first trimester of pregnancy, progesterone rises drastically, but then it plateaus towards the second trimester. Progesterone is responsible for keeping the muscles surrounding the uterus relaxed, in addition to keeping the immune system strong enough to tolerate foreign DNA, such as the fetus.

Because progesterone is relaxing all of the smooth muscles within the body, it can also lead to relaxation of the blood vessels. Relaxation of the blood vessels within the body can lead to lower blood pressure and dizziness. This rise in progesterone is also the cause of many of the common complaints of pregnancy such as heartburn, nausea, gas, vomiting and acid reflux.

Many of these gastrointestinal symptoms are a direct result of the rise in progesterone. As if this is not enough, progesterone also leads to an increase in hair growth. No, we are not talking about hair on your head. You may notice some unwanted hair in areas that you never even thought of, such as your lower abdomen and breasts.

P Can Also Be For Prolactin

ProlactinOkay, so we had one hormone beginning with this letter already. But, there are so many important hormones beginning with this letter that we could not help ourselves. Prolactin is an important hormone, as it is responsible for producing milk within the body.

This milk-producing hormone increases anywhere from 10 to 20 times during a pregnancy, and it also has a tranquilizing effect. This tranquilizing effect on the nipple and breast tissue areas prepares the body to nurse.

R Is For Relaxin

RelaxinAnother hormone responsible for preparing the body is relaxin. Relaxin is responsible for loosening particular ligaments in the pelvic area in order to prepare the birth canal for delivery.

This hormone also helps to relax the uterine muscles in order to facilitate a smooth delivery.

During pregnancy, a woman will have 10 times the normal amount of relaxin in her body. The negative impact of this presence of hormone lies within the ligaments of the body. Pregnant women may experience looseness in their knees, shoulders, hips and ankles. Commonly, women claim to have aches, pains, and inflammation.

T Is For Thyroid Stimulating Hormone

This pregnancy hormone is another suspect of causing morning sickness. While scientists have no way of knowing for sure, there are a few suspects for the cause of morning sickness, and this is one of them.

Thyroid Stimulating HormoneThis hormone typically appears immediately upon conception and gradually decreases during the early stages of pregnancy.

The thyroid stimulating hormone is released by the pituitary gland, and is responsible for producing many various hormones such as thyroid hormones, thyroxin and triiodothyronine.

These hormones are responsible for maintaining many of the body’s important functions, such as the metabolic rate, heart and digestive functioning and the control of muscles. These various hormones also control the maintenance of bones and brain development.

As you can see, there are many different hormones involved in your pregnancy. While some may produce some less than welcomed side effects, they are all important for keeping your pregnancy and baby healthy.

In addition to these hormones, there are a few other things we would like to leave you with as you research into information you should know in regards to your upcoming pregnancy.

Here is a list of other things you should know about your pregnancy:

  1. MedicationsLook Into Your Current Medications. Once you realize you are pregnant, it is important for you to re-evaluate your current medication.
    Many medications can be detrimental to a pregnancy. For example, some headache medications are known for causing miscarriages.
  2. Reconsider Your Job Situation. Many workingwomen want to work during all three trimesters. However, new studies are showing that women who work up to eight months tend to have premature and unhealthy children. This could be attributed to the stress and exhaustion, both from pregnancy and from work.
  3. Consider Exercise. Many women may not want to work out while pregnant. But, pregnancy is actually the quintessential time to exercise. More and more studies are proving that exercise during pregnancy shows that your baby’s heart rate will be much healthier. In addition, the baby maintains that healthy heart rate after birth.
  4. Diet Counts, But Perhaps Not Like You Thought. Everyone knows the few things you are not supposed to eat while pregnant.
    But, there are a few other things about diet while pregnant that you may not know. Your diet has a direct correlation to your child’s future obesity risk.

You can help protect your child against obesity while you are still pregnant, all with your eating habits. Studies are proving that a fatty diet helps to change a fetus’ genetic material and makes them much more prone to obesity for their later years in life. Even for women who are already obese, eating healthy foods while pregnant proved to lessen their child’s obesity risk factors.

  1. Your Labor Stress May Delay Labor: Many women find themselves fearing the moment of labor, but did you know that this can actually help to prolong labor? It’s true. The longer you wait to have the child, and the more contractions you have, your muscles tire out and your contractions become less and less effective.

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