Changes in hormone levels during pregnancy may bring about many physical and emotional changes in your body. These changes in hormone levels are in the best interest of you and your baby. However, all these changes are not easy to deal with, especially if you are expecting for the first time.
The first trimester of your pregnancy is like an emotional roller coaster since you have just found out that you are to be a mother very soon and, at the same time, you might feel nauseated and may even throw up every morning primarily due to the increased human chorionic gonadotropin hormone in your body.
Two other very important pregnancy hormones, estrogen and progesterone, also show their effects on your body during this time. Estrogen in pregnancy is very important for the growth and development of the baby and is secreted in large quantities. A pregnant woman produces more estrogen during her pregnancy than a woman, who never got pregnant, in her entire lifetime. Also, the level of progesterone during pregnancy is seven times higher than usual! All these raging hormones are bound to make their presence felt!
Some other changes that are seen in your body due to pregnancy hormones are dark patches on your face, increased hair growth on the body, and “linea nigra,” a dark line from the pubic bone to the center of the ribs. These hormones also give you a beautiful pregnancy glow and in many women, thick, beautiful, and shiny hair.
Estrogen in pregnancy plays varied roles. It helps in the enlargement of breasts so that the infant can be fed. It also darkens your nipples so that it is easy for your newborn to find your breasts. It also increases your sensitivity to certain odors, which makes you choose one type of food over the other. During the second trimester, due to the higher amount of blood directed to the vagina, a colorless and odorless discharge called leukorrhea is often observed. This is a healthy and natural phenomenon, which is also regulated by estrogen.
Progesterone is another important hormone that is secreted in more amounts than usual in pregnancy. Progesterone is involved in making room for the child by relaxing the uterine muscles during pregnancy. It is also responsible for pregnancy-related fatigue, as it focuses all the energy of the body in sustaining the pregnancy. It slows down the digestion process and slows the contractions of the esophagus and intestines, which may result in constipation and, sometimes, hemorrhoids. Progesterone also relaxes the valve that separates the esophagus and the stomach, causing the gastric juices to seep up backward and cause an unpleasant heartburn.
The combined effect of these hormones also influences the pregnant woman’s moods. Pregnancy mood swings, an effect of these hormones, are something that can be dealt with to some degree with relaxation techniques and meditation. Mood swings can range from being angry and irritable one minute, to happy and joyful the very next minute.
Pregnancy hormones help your body get ready for pregnancy, help you sustain it, and keep you and your baby healthy! Talk to your gynecologist if you have any major health issues like vomiting that doesn’t stop.