As your body adapts to suit your baby during pregnancy, you may notice different changes In both your physical and mental status. For example, you may see your skin is smoother, your hair becomes somewhat nicer, and your feelings are running wild. These changes happen because different hormones in your body are produced and modified during the pregnancy period. The hormonal changes that come with pregnancy are unique. So what are these hormones and how do they work? Let’s discover 7 important hormones during pregnancy.
1. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG)
HCG is the most important hormone in pregnancy and is only produced during this period. The level of HCG in your body is the factor that affects the pregnancy test result. Typically, your HCG level will increase 8 days after ovulation, peak at 60 to 90 days, then decrease slightly. This hormone stimulates the production of progesterone and estrogen, two other important pregnancy hormones. HCG also changes your immune system to support your developing baby. It informs your baby’s presence to the body and makes the uterus ready for its small guest. On top of that, this hormone is also responsible for the ovaries not to ovulate every month. However, research shows that increased levels of HCG are the cause of morning sickness during pregnancy.
Progesterone is a female hormone produced by a cyst on the ovary called the corpus luteum. But by the 10th week of pregnancy, the placenta is responsible for the production of progesterone. This hormone is very important for a healthy pregnancy, and its level increases significantly in the first trimester. Even before you become pregnant, it stimulates the growth of your uterine lining to prepare for fertilized eggs. It encourages the growth of breast tissue to prepare for breastfeeding while preventing lactation. By softening your ligaments and cartilage, progesterone makes labor easier for you. Furthermore, this hormone stimulates glands in the endometrium to release nutrients for the developing embryo.
Similar to progesterone, estrogen is also released by the ovaries until the placenta takes over. Its level increases gradually until the end of the first trimester. Estrogen has several extremely important roles in your pregnancy. Estrogen helps your uterus grow to fit your baby’s development. It regulates the production of other important hormones, including progesterone. This hormone plays an important role in the development of your baby’s organs like lungs and liver. It also reduces the chance of miscarriage during your pregnancy.
This hormone is also known as the happy hormone and the love hormone. It is the hormone that triggers contractions to announce that your labor is coming soon. Oxytocin extends your cervix to help you prepare for childbirth. It also stimulates your nipple to produce milk for your baby. It is believed that oxytocin promotes the bond between you and your baby after birth.
5. Human Placental Lactogen (HPL)
The placenta begins producing this hormone around the second week of pregnancy. HPL levels will reach its peak during the later stages of pregnancy. By regulating the mother’s metabolism, HPL helps your body to break down fat better and convert them into energy. After that, This hormone supplies energy to the embryo and promotes your baby’s development. It also makes your body less sensitive to insulin. Insulin is responsible for transferring glucose from your blood to the cells. In fact, there’s more sugar left in your blood to nourish your baby. HPL also has a role in preparing for breastfeeding as it stimulates the mammary glands in your breast.
This is another important hormone that helps produce milk. During pregnancy, your body will produce 10 – 20 times the amount of this hormone than usual. It makes your breasts increase in size, promoting the growth of breast tissue, and preparing them for releasing milk for your baby.
7. Relaxin hormone
As the name implies, this pregnancy hormone has an important, relaxing role on your body during pregnancy. This hormone is present and produced by the ovaries in non-pregnant women. However, during pregnancy, the placenta and the uterine mucosa promote relaxin production. Relaxin prepares for dilation of the uterus and its mucosa for pregnancy. It also relaxes the uterine wall to prevent contractions which can interfere with the fertilization process of the egg. Furthermore, this hormone can help your body to prevent early contractions and avoid miscarriage. As your blood volume may increase during pregnancy, relaxin eases the blood vessels to cope with the increased volume. On top of that, relaxin stimulates the cervix and relaxes your pelvis ligament during labor to make it easier for you.
There you go, now you have discovered the 7 important hormones during pregnancy. What are your thoughts about them? Do you have more questions about them? Please share it with us in the comments!