Pregnancy hormones

Hormones are there to help you during pregnancy and birth. Midwife and Mindful Mum expert, Amanda Gwynne, helps us understand the role of hormones during pregnancy, labour, child birth and breastfeeding.

Pregnancy-hormones

Read a summary of the important pregnancy hormones and click on the link for more information on the effects of each hormone during pregnancy.

Part 1

Hormones in early pregnancy include HCG and Progesterone.

Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (HCG)
HCG stimulates an increase of oestrogen and progesterone to prevent menstruation. It is the main hormone measured in pregnancy tests and may be responsible for early pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness and fatigue.
Progesterone
Progesterone is produced by the placenta from approximately 12 weeks of pregnancy with a steady rise in levels until labour and birth. It decreases contractility of uterine smooth muscles preventing contractions during pregnancy.

Read more in Hormones during pregnancy Part 1

Part 2

Hormones that are important mid pregnancy.

Oestrogens
The main source of oestrogens in pregnancy is the placenta but they are also produced by the maternal and fetal adrenal glands. Oestrogen regulates progesterone, protecting your pregnancy.

Human Chorionic Somatomammotrophin (HCS)
Commonly called Human Placental Lactogen (HPL) is produced by the syncytiotrophoblast. It appears to alter your metabolism so that your baby thrives and grows, as you use more fatty acids leaving more glucose for your baby to thrive.

Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone
A combination of oestrogen, progesterone and melanocyte stimulating hormone can cause skin discolouration (skin pigmentation) affecting your nipples, areola and linea nigra (the line that runs down from your abdomen to your pubic bone).

Read more in Hormones during pregnancy part 2

Part 3

Hormones that are involved in the finale of pregnancy and childbirth.

Relaxin
Belonging to the insulin family, relaxin is a protein hormone produced by the corpus luteum, breasts and placenta. During pregnancy relaxin is found in ten times its normal concentration.

Oxytocin
Oxytocin is commonly known as the ‘love’ hormone as it is released in pulses during lovemaking, childbirth and breastfeeding, and engenders emotions of love. Your baby has also been producing oxytocin so that crucial bonding is initiated between you both, enhanced by skin to skin touching.

Read more in Hormones during pregnancy part 3

Part 4

Hormones that are involved in labour, birth and breastfeeding.

Beta-endorphins
Beta-endorphins are stress hormones produced in the pituitry gland and inhibits the perception of pain. High levels are present during lovemaking, pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding

Fight or Flight Response Hormones
Hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline comprise our fight or flight response to stress or danger, collectively they are known as catecholamines (CA). Recent research has indicated that a sudden increase in catecholamines at the end of labour may be beneficial, activating the ‘fetal ejection reflex’ and a surge of strong contractions facilitating an easy and quick birth.
Prolactin
Commonly known as the ‘mothering’ hormone prolactin is produced in the pituitry gland. Falling levels of progesterone stimulate milk production in conjunction with your baby’s sucking stimulation. High levels are found in fathers closely involved with their baby promoting bonding and reducing testosterone levels and libido, but not sexual function!

Read more in Hormones during pregnancy part 4

Pregnancy symptoms | Weight gain | Early signs of pregnancy | Tiredness | Morning Sickness | Bloating | Needing to wee more | Implantation bleeding | Pre-eclampsia | Thrush | Piles | Heartburn | SPD | Diarrhea | Headaches | Tiredness | Metallic taste | Constipation | Breast tenderness

Photograph:
Warren @ Flickr

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