While pregnancy is a magical time for women, it is also fraught with bodily changes. A woman’s hormones go into overdrive during pregnancy as the body prepares itself for reproducing and growing another human being. There are several significant hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy.
Boosted Estrogen, Progesterone and hCG
Estrogen and progesterone are two of the core hormones that change to enable a healthy pregnancy. Another hormone that plays a crucial role during pregnancy is estrogen. Estrogen levels increase significantly during pregnancy, and they are responsible for several bodily changes. Estrogen manages the growth and development of the fetus, as well as the growth of the breasts and the uterus. It supports the uterus by telling the body to increase blood flow, so the baby has access to more nutrients found in the blood. This hormone also relaxed the ligaments in the pelvis, which is essential for moving the baby through the birth canal during labor.
Progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum, which is maintained by the chemical hCG. Progesterone helps to thicken the lining of the uterus, which is an essential growing environment for the fetus. Progesterone relaxes the muscles in the uterus, which helps to prevent premature labor.
Another hormone that is important during pregnancy is human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). It is produced by the placenta, an organ that provides nourishment to the fetus during growth. hCG is responsible for maintaining the corpus luteum, which is a structure in the ovary that produces progesterone.
Changes in both estrogen and progesterone should be evaluated by an endocrinologist, a specialist doctor who deeply understands the hormonal system. An endocrinologist works closely with an OBGYN to monitor hormonal levels and ensure the woman’s health and the fetus is not at risk due to too high or low hormones.
Oxytocin and Thyroid Hormones
Often called the “love hormone” because it encourages bonding and love feelings, is important for management of delivery and labor contractions. It also plays a role in breastfeeding, as it helps to stimulate the let-down reflex that allows milk to flow from the breasts.
Pregnancy also drives changes in the thyroid gland, which is essential for regulating the body’s metabolism. When pregnant, a woman’s thyroid gland grows, and it produces more thyroid hormones because the fetus relies on the hormone for proper development. If thyroid hormone levels become too high or too low, it can lead to complications during pregnancy, such as preterm labor or low birth weight.
Hormonal changes are a natural part of a pregnancy. These compounds are essential for prepping the mother’s body for giving birth to a healthy baby. They manage fetus development, breast and uterus growth and changes, pelvic changes, and other adjustments that are necessary for the complex and magical birthing process.
Women who are pregnant and experiencing challenges often seek the counsel of an endocrinologist. An endocrinologist can check hormone levels and prescribe treatment options to keep these levels at an optimal place. Dr. Brian Fertig is a New Jersey-based endocrinologist and noted author. He wrote “Metabolism & Medicine” to detail the ways hormones and the entire metabolic system can affect whole body health, including various diseases. You can buy “Metabolism & Medicine” from Amazon to learn more about the book’s keen insights, including how hormonal changes can affect a pregnancy.