Understanding Pregnancy Hormones

Posted on May 25, 2012 | Articles, Pregnancy Symptoms Category | | Print This Article

Pregnancy hormones are behind a number of the significant changes that take place to your body during pregnancy, including morning sickness. Let’s take a look at some of the important pregnancy hormones, as well as the roles they play:

  • hCG. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is the pregnancy hormone that will be detected by a pregnancy test if you are pregnant. It’s the hormone that gets all of the other pregnancy hormones into production. Your body starts making hCG after fertilization, and it rises and rises until about the 10th week of pregnancy. hCG reaches levels that can make you feel nauseous – morning sickness – at around 8 to 10 days after fertilization. It also contributes to a number of other pregnancy symptoms like fatigue, tenderness of the breasts, irritability, constipation, and even heartburn.
  • Estrogen. This hormone rises to about 100 times its normal levels during pregnancy. It helps to make sure your placenta stays healthy. It plays a pivotal role in allowing your baby’s organs to develop properly. Estrogen can be the cause of some pregnancy symptoms such as headache and a higher amount of production of cervical mucus or vaginal discharge. After your baby is born, your estrogen levels will drop. During breastfeeding, they go down even further and can cause symptoms we normally associate with menopause such as vaginal dryness and hot flashes.
  • Progesterone. This hormone helps the uterus get ready for implantation of the fetus. It also contributes to your baby’s growth and development. It can cause acid reflux as well as constipation. It also helps relax your joints and open your pelvis for birth.
  • Oxytocin. This hormone helps you to reduce the amount of pain you feel during labor. It also helps the uterus snap back into shape after pregnancy, and can help you feel closer to your baby.
  • Prolactin. This hormone causes the glands in your breast to product milk and get you ready for breastfeeding. It is often one of the reasons for breast tenderness during pregnancy. It declines once you stop breastfeeding.

Each of these pregnancy hormones has a specific role to fill, and each is important to a happy and healthy pregnancy.



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