Do you find yourself going from super excited mom-to-be to to a complete emotional wreck? Do the little things, like burning your morning toast make you burst into tears? Thats your pregnancy hormones talking!
I know that when I first became pregnant back in February my emotions were ALL OVER THE PLACE! One minute I was my happy self and the next I was sitting on the couch sobbing uncontrollably (and for no reason!) Although these things seemed to disappear in my second trimester, they are making a comeback in my third! Ive been super emotional lately. One minute I am so excited for the baby come and the next I am a nervous and anxious wreck. Not only that, but it seems like the teeniest little thing can make me breakdown into tears! Some of this is due to the motherhood anxiety I am experiencing, but it also has a lot to do with my hormones.
Not only are my emotions out of whack, but my heartburn is raging, my hips are hurting, i’m experiencing some pregnancy constipation, and i’m even getting some varicose veins! All these pesky little symptoms can be explained by the crazy hormonal changes we go through during pregnancy!
I decided to do some investigation on pregnancy hormones and this is what I found….
HUMAN CHORIONIC GONADTROPIN (hCG)
You probably heard a lot about this one when you first got pregnant. This hormone kicks in as soon as your egg is fertilized and it is responsible for that little pink (blue, black whatever!) line on your pregnancy test that tells you that you are pregnant! The hormone is usually at its highest around weeks 14-16 and then begins to plateau and eventually decreases as our other hormones kick in. Its primary function is to signal to the body to start making the placenta (your baby’s life support during pregnancy) and to get this whole pregnancy thing underway!
Morning sickness? Your raging hCG levels could be to blame! Women with higher levels of hCG often have worse morning sickness compared to those who have lower levels. Once your placenta has been made and is all ready to go, it takes over the production of hormones (instead of your body) so this is why morning sickness often subsides by your second trimester!
This hormone is responsible for relaxing all of your muscles and joints in preparation for labor. It relaxes your smooth muscle tissues which helps your belly expand. Progesterone also relaxes blood vessels, which helps explain those varicose veins and your lower blood pressure. It is the cause of all of our gastro-intestinal problems such as heartburn, acid reflex, nausea, and constipation because it relaxes and slows down the digestive track! In addition, it also explains all that extra body hair you may be seeing because it encourages hair growth! On the bright side, you are probably sporting beautiful locks during your pregnancy due to this hormone =)
We have all heard of Estrogen, the quintessential female hormone and it is the hormone that controls puberty! It encourages breast growth, the start of menstruation and all the other experiences we have as we go through puberty. Estrogen also plays a very important role during pregnancy. It stimulates hormone production in your growing baby and is responsible for the development of many organs and bodily systems.
Glowing skin? Estrogen can be held responsible for your glowing pregnancy complexion or, if you’re not so lucky, your bad case of pregnancy acne! It is also responsible for your increased appetite, nausea, increased blood levels and so many of the other changes you experience during pregnancy!
You can probably guess by the name but this hormone is responsible for relaxing your ligaments in your lower abdomen and pelvis. As your due date approaches your pelvis softens and widens to accommodate for the watermelon sized baby you are about to push through it! It is also responsible for those pesky ligament cramps you may feel as your belly expands. Relaxin (combined with Progesterone) is the culprit for many of the most uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms.
This is what helps induce labor! Although your oxytocin levels don’t rise during pregnancy we become more sensitive to it so when our baby is ready to come out, this hormone is what triggers our first labor contractions! It is also responsible for moving milk into the breast during breastfeeding. We stimulate oxytocin production when we are feeling happy so cuddling up to your partner at night is a good way to bring on labor! (This is actually why many women begin labor at night)
This is the big hormone when it comes to lactation. It stimulates the breast to produce milk glands and prepares the breasts for lactation. It is also responsible for how your body naturally responds to your baby when they cry or when its time to feed. My mother in law always tells me that when she was breastfeeding, just the sound of her baby crying would make her breasts spew out milk!
After pregnancy your hormone levels will drop. This can cause the ‘baby blues’ or it can even cause postpartum depression. Your hormone levels will eventually level out (normally around the time you begin menstruating again) and you should be back to feeling normal both emotionally of physically. If you suspect you are suffering from postpartum depression it is very important to seek help!
I hope all of your pregnancy symptoms aren’t bothering you too much! Until next time, happy pregnancy!!