Pregnancy Hormones - Everything You Need To Know

Pregnancy Hormones

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While you are pregnant, the myriad of physiological changes in your body can leave you gasping for breath, pun not intended. While it isn’t entirely because of your raging and hyperactive hormones, but they do play a significant part in contributing to the turmoil. Most experts love to blame these changes on hormonal imbalance and hormonal upheaval. So, let’s look at what these pregnancy hormones are, and how they affect your body.

Hormones That Affect Your Pregnancy:

Here, we list some common pregnancy hormones and how they affect your emotional state while you are expecting:

1. The Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) Hormone:

  • HCG is one of the most important pregnancy hormones and it will lead to many changes in your body.
  • The HCG hormone is produced by the part of your body which will later develop into the placenta as your pregnancy progresses through the months.
  • HCG takes on the responsibility of letting your body know that there is a little one growing inside you and helps prepare your body into a safe home for your unborn baby.
  • It also conditions your ovaries so that they stop producing mature eggs each month and hence successfully stop your monthly menstruation periods.
  • The level of your HCG hormone will go up about eight days after your ovulation and will be at its peak at about 60 to 90 days after you ovulate.
  • The HCG hormone keeps moving through your body and will be flushed out of your system through your urine, which is how it shows up in your home pregnancy test kits in which you use your urine samples to check whether or not you are pregnant.
    • While there is no definite cause of nausea and morning sickness while you are pregnant, doctors often feel that it is due to the hormone HCG and its rising levels. Also, it is believed that women who have a higher amount of HCG level during their pregnancy months as compared to other women who are pregnant will face more bouts of nausea and morning sickness.

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[ Read: Hair Fall During Pregnancy ]

2. The Progesterone Hormone:

  • Progesterone is a hormone that is made in your body in the earlier days and weeks of your pregnancy by a cyst on your ovary that is known as the corpus luteum.
  • The hormone progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum till about you are ten weeks pregnant. After that it gets produced by the placenta.
  • During your first three weeks of pregnancy, the levels of the progesterone hormone will rise at very high levels after which they will reach a point where they will stay stable.
  • Throughout your pregnancy, the progesterone hormone will have a very important role to play. It will help to relax the muscles of your uterus and will also help your immune system to tolerate the DNA, which is your fetus, or your unborn baby, which your body may otherwise relate to as a foreign object.
  • The progesterone hormone during pregnancy will relax almost all the smooth muscles in your body, which will also include the muscular wall of your uterus, which is also the womb. It will cause your blood vessels throughout the body to relax which can cause your blood pressure levels to dip down significantly.
  • When your levels of blood pressure suddenly drop down, you can feel bouts of dizziness and some spells of fainting too.
  • Also, the sudden drop in your levels of blood pressure can lead to those gastrointestinal symptoms that are commonly associated with pregnancy. Some of the most common signs and symptoms will include heartburn, acidity, vomiting, nausea, gas, reflux, belching and even constipation.
  • The changes in your levels of the hormone progesterone are also responsible for the appearance of more hair on your body while you are pregnant, especially on your breasts and across your abdomen.

3. The Estrogen Hormone:

  • Just as the hormone progesterone, the hormone estrogen is also produced by the same organ known as corpus luteum till the time it starts to be produced by your placenta.
  • The estrogen hormone is extremely important in your pregnancy, as it has a major role to play in the development of your unborn baby.
  • The hormone estrogen helps to develop many different organs of your unborn baby’s body as well as helps to develop various bodily systems.
  • By the end of your first trimester the levels of the hormone estrogen in your body will be at very high levels, after which they will come to a stable level and remain the same for the remaining part of your pregnancy.
  • The hormone estrogen also has another very important role to play while you are pregnant. It helps in the production of hormones in the adrenal gland of your unborn baby and also helps your unborn baby’s adrenal gland develop properly.
  • The same hormone is also responsible for enhancing your uterus, which will later help it to respond to another hormone that is known as the oxytocin hormone.
  • High levels of the estrogen hormone can lead to various signs and symptoms during your pregnancy, such as an increase in your appetite, nausea, the appearance of spider veins and even changes in your skin such as spots of pigmentation and dark spots.
  • In some cases, the hormone estrogen also causes another very significant sign of pregnancy, in which your skin takes on that look that is often referred to as the pregnancy glow.

[ Read: Physical Activities During Pregnancy ]

4. The Oxytocin Hormone:

  • Many people feel that the oxytocin hormone is the one that leads you to start your labor. It could be because one of the drugs that is given in most cases to induce labor is Pitocin, which is a synthetic version of the oxytocin hormone.
  • However, what actually happens is that your levels of the hormone oxytocin do not increase as you begin your labor. Instead, your uterus becomes extremely sensitive towards the hormone and starts responding to it in a very heightened way, especially when you start progressing towards the final weeks of your pregnancy.
  • The hormone oxytocin will also stretch your cervix and stimulate your nipples so that they can start producing breast milk to help feed your baby after birth.

[ Read: Rashes During Pregnancy ]

5. The Prolactin Hormone:

  • The hormone prolactin is the hormone that helps to produce milk in your breasts when you are pregnant and is often also referred to as the milk-producing hormone.
  • The prolactin hormone levels during pregnancy increases to about 10 to 20 times than when you are not pregnant.
  • It is also the hormone that has a very relaxing effect on you and may often be responsible for making you feel extra sleepy and drowsy when you are pregnant.
  • The prolactin hormone also helps to prepare the tissues in your breasts for the upcoming breastfeeding and the need to release milk from the nipples.

[ Read: HCG Injections During Pregnancy ]

6. The Relaxin Hormone:

  • The hormone relaxin is the hormone that helps to relax or loosen the ligaments that are responsible for holding your pelvic bones in place.
  • It is also the hormone that causes the muscles in your uterus to relax, as a preparation for the upcoming birth time when your baby will have to move through the birth canal.
  • When you are pregnant, the levels of the relaxin hormone shoot up to ten times of what they are when you are not pregnant.
  • The relaxin hormone causes a loosening of various ligaments in your body, including your hips, knees, shoulders and even ankles. As a result, you may often feel pain, inflammation or even tenderness in these areas.

[ Read: Progesterone Level During Pregnancy ]

Can Your Pregnancy Hormones Cause Any Injuries During Exercise?

All the hormonal changes that your body goes through while you are pregnant are extremely important for the well-being of your unborn baby as well as for your overall pregnancy health. However, some of these hormones can also make it more difficult for you to exercise while you are pregnant. Here are some reasons why you may be more prone to injuries while you are exercising during your pregnancy months:

  • While you are pregnant, you will be at a higher risk of facing injuries such as sprain in your knees or ankles as well as various strains and pulls. In most cases, it happens because the change in your pregnancy hormone levels loosens the various ligaments in your body.
  • Also, as your pregnancy progresses, your breasts will grow larger and heavier and your stomach will turn bigger and rounder towards the front. It will increase the curvature of your back and will cause the center of your gravity to change and move towards the front. As a result, you will have difficulty in maintaining your sense of balance, which can make you more susceptible to falls and make you more prone to injury as well.

[ Read: Common Body Changes During Pregnancy ]

The Role Of Pregnancy Hormones In Gaining Weight, Fluid Retention And Exercise Or Physical Activity:

As a result of the many hormonal changes that you will go through while you are pregnant, there will be a lot of changes related to your body that you will notice and that may interfere with your daily routine. Here are some of the changes that hormonal changes will bring to you in terms of weight gain, fluid retention in the body as well as your physical activities:

  • With the hormones changing and your unborn baby growing through the weeks, you will soon notice a gain in your weight. As your weight starts to increase, you may find it increasingly difficult to do a lot of the physical activities that you were easily able to do earlier. The extra weight that you will put on through the months of pregnancy and the way that your center of gravity shifts now will also make your blood circulation and the circulation of your body fluids slow down. Once this happens, you will start to retain more and more fluids in your body, which can also cause you to experience swelling in your feet, hands, legs and in some cases on your face as well.
  • Most women will experience swelling beginning in the second trimester that may well increase and carry on till your third trimester. The increase in your fluid retention will cause about an additional 25 percent weight gain of the total weight gain that you will experience during your pregnancy. Make sure that you take enough breaks and rest, avoid standing up for longer stretches at a time, avoid drinking or eating products that contain caffeine and sodium as well as increase the amount of potassium you have in your pregnancy hormone diet.
  • When you gain weight in your pregnancy months, your body will slowly find it difficult to go through your regular routine of exercise, even if you have always been exercising earlier. While you are pregnant, the many hormonal changes in your body will lead to issues such as round ligament strain, instability in the pelvic area that will happen as a result of the loosening of the ligaments and even an increase in the size of the uterus. All these changes will make it very difficult and even uncomfortable for you to be able to exercise while you are pregnant.

[ Read: Weight During Pregnancy ]

The Role Of Pregnancy Hormones In Various Physiological Changes:

The many hormonal changes that your body will go through while you are pregnant will also lead to various physiological changes through the months of your pregnancy. Here is a look at some of the most common physiological changes that you will go through as a result of your pregnancy hormones:

  • Most of your hormonal changes will first start to take place in your first trimester itself. As a result, your body will start experiencing certain physiological changes around the same time.
  • The various physiological changes that you will go through will help to prepare your body to care for your unborn baby during the months of pregnancy as well as during the first few weeks and months after you give birth. As a result of the physiological changes, your body will start preparing itself for the pregnancy stage, the stage of birth as well as the time when you will be breastfeeding your little one. Also, it will also lead to a major change in how your senses change during these months, including your sense of taste, smell, and even sight.

The Role Of Pregnancy Hormones In Your Hair And Nail Changes:

While you are pregnant, you may also notice some changes in your hair as well as in your nails.

1. Changes In Your Hair:

Here are some changes that you may notice in your hair that will mostly be because of the many pregnancy hormones that will be raging inside you while you are pregnant:

  • Your various hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause hair fall. On the other hand, you may also notice that you suddenly have a lot of hair growth on your body, and that the hair that you already had on your skin earlier will now turn thicker.
  • The unwanted side of these hormone changes during pregnancy can lead to a significant increase in the amount of your body hair, most of which will tend to be very noticeable on your face, legs, and arms, as well as on your breasts and stomach.
  • Do not panic about the sudden increase in your hair growth, as most of it will shed once you have given birth to your baby. For the first few months or even the first year after you give birth, you will still experience a lot of hair fall as well as the increase in body hair. However, as your pregnancy hormones will come back to their normal levels during this time, it will help to balance out your hair follicles and your hair condition will come back to what it was before you became pregnant.

[ Read: Exercises To Avoid During Pregnancy ]

2. Changes In Your Nails:

Here are some changes that you may notice in your nails that will mostly be because of the many pregnancy hormones that will be raging inside you while you are pregnant:

  • You may see that your nails start to grow faster while you are pregnant and that you have to trim them more often, as compared to how much you did before you were pregnant.
  • While the length of your nails may surely be something that you like, you will also notice other changes in your nails that can make it difficult for you to maintain your new long nails. Some changes that your nails will most likely go through while you are pregnant are becoming very brittle and breaking off easily, grooves or even keratosis, where you may develop hard and lesion-type of growths on the area around your nails.
  • Make sure you eat a lot of healthy fruits and vegetables and have a balanced diet that will bring the strength back to your nails and prevent them from breaking or getting damaged.

[ Read: Back Pain During Pregnancy ]

The Role Of Pregnancy Hormones In Breast Change:

Here are some changes that you may notice in your breasts that will mostly be because of the many pregnancy hormones that will be raging inside you while you are pregnant:

  • Your breasts will now start getting ready for the time when you will have to breastfeed your baby after the birth, and you will see a number of changes taking place.
  • The pregnancy hormones in your body will cause pigmentation of the skin, which will darken the already darker skin around your nipples, which is also known as the areola.
  • You will also notice that your breasts will become enlarged and may grow a few sizes while you are pregnant. As a result, you will most likely also experience swelling and tenderness of your breasts and your breasts will feel sore to the touch.
  • The veins around your nipples will become more prominent and darker, and your nipples will also protrude more than they did before.
  • Also, if your breasts grow significantly in size or grow too rapidly, you may notice stretch marks on them too.
  • You can also see some bumps on your areola that may sometimes leak a yellowish and thick substance that is known as the colostrum and may happen sometime around your second trimester. The colostrum is your first milk and it just an indication that your breasts are producing the same and storing them for when your baby will be born. At the same time, the milk ducts that are present in your breast will also start to grow and get ready to produce as well as store the breast milk for later use.

[ Read: Hot Flashes During Pregnancy ]

Additional Changes As A Result Of Pregnancy Hormones:

Here are more changes that you will notice during your pregnancy as a result of the related hormones:

  • You may notice a change in your vision where you may experience an increased myopia or nearsightedness. Once you give birth your vision will most likely return to normal. Also, you may also experience slight blurriness or discomfort if you wear your lenses.
  • There will also be a change in your senses, such as your sense of taste and smell. Your senses will be at a heightened level and you will react more to the same. You may suddenly like foods you never liked before or develop an aversion for foods that you earlier loved.

Pregnancy is a time of changes, and most of them are characterized by the many hormones that will be raging through your pregnancy months. Do not get worried as most of these changes will normalize once you give birth. However, if you feel uncomfortable with any changes that you may go through, do speak to your doctor about it.

What were some of the most distinct and amazing changes you went through while you were pregnant? Tell us below.

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