Pregnancy brings about incredible changes in your body, driven by a beautiful dance of hormones. Understanding the hormonal changes in early pregnancy empowers you to embrace this transformative period. In this post, we will explore these hormones, their functions, and how they can affect you along the way.
Firstly, what exactly are hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers produced by various glands and tissues in the body. They are released into the bloodstream and travel to cells or organs, where they initiate specific responses. These responses can affect a wide range of bodily functions, including growth, development, metabolism, reproduction and mood regulation. Hormones are essential for maintaining the body’s balance and ensuring that different systems work together harmoniously.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG):
Think of hCG as your pregnancy cheerleader! This hormone, produced by the placenta, helps to sustain your pregnancy. It supports the growth of the embryo and stimulates the production of other important hormones. Sometimes, high levels of hCG can lead to morning sickness, including feelings of nausea and occasional vomiting. Don’t worry, though – these symptoms usually ease up as your pregnancy progresses.
Progesterone is like your body’s pregnancy guardian. It is produced by the ovaries and later by the placenta. Progesterone prepares the lining of your uterus to welcome and support the embryo and keeps your pregnancy healthy. Throughout pregnancy this hormone continues to play a protective role by preventing contractions that could potentially lead to preterm labor. Its presence is essential for supporting the development of your little one. However, higher progesterone levels can bring some discomforts such as feeling tired, bloated, and experiencing constipation. Remember to prioritize self-care and listen to your body’s cues ensuring you get the rest and nourishment you need during this time.
Meet your pregnancy’s flexibility coach – relaxin. This hormone, secreted by the placenta, helps your body prepare for the birth of your baby. It works by loosening your ligaments, joints and muscles, making space for your growing baby. While this is an essential process, it can lead to feeling weak and uncomfortable. During my own pregnancies I remember occasionally feeling clumsy and dropping things which I attributed to relaxin. Joint instability and increased flexibility may cause aches and pains, especially in your lower back and pelvis. Be mindful of your posture, and consider gentle exercises that support muscle strength and stability.
Estrogen is your body’s multitasking hormone. During pregnancy, your ovaries produce estrogen to support the growth of your uterus, blood vessels, and breast tissue. This hormone plays a vital role in nurturing your baby’s development. At the same time, fluctuating estrogen levels can sometimes bring about mood swings, breast tenderness, nasal congestion, and fluid retention. Remember that these changes are a normal part of the pregnancy journey, and self-care practices like staying active, seeking emotional support, and maintaining a balanced diet can help you navigate these shifts.
It’s pretty cool that your body knows exactly what to do and how to do it. All of these pregnancy hormones are working hard to support the growth and development of your baby. While they can occasionally bring discomfort, each one has an important purpose. Being aware of how these hormones affect your body can help you respond to your body’s needs. Remember to reach out to your care provider and your doula for guidance and support. You’re doing amazing, and we are cheering for you!