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Are Pregnancy Hormones Taking Over? Here's What You Need To Know.

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By Author: Shipra Singh
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From the time you conceive till a few weeks after pregnancy, your hormones take over and are responsible for the rollercoaster ride you feel like you're on. As they work to produce a new human life, their effects can manifest in different ways in your body. In this article, you will find out about the various hormones and how each one affects you.

1. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)

This hormone that is made in the placenta, an organ that is connected to the fetus by the umbilical cord, is produced only during pregnancy when the egg meets the sperm.
Home pregnancy tests are built to detect the presence of this hormone in the urine before showing a positive. Days after the egg is fertilised, the newly developed placenta releases this hormone, that doubles every 2 to 3 days. It is hCG that stimulates the development of other hormones - oestrogen and progesterone. Women pregnant with multiples will notice an increased production of hCG to keep up with the requirements of multiple babies.

Symptoms caused by this hormone: hCG is responsible for the soreness in breasts and a sensitive bladder because it drives blood supply to your pelvic area. You also have this hormone to thank for nausea and vomiting as well. Because this is the first hormone that's produced, you will note that the symptoms it causes are all the early signs of pregnancy.

2. Oestrogen

This hormone that increases blood flow throughout your body helps your uterus grow, and maintains the uterine lining that keeps your growing baby safe and sound. Oestrogen also helps your baby's organs develop and regulates his/her bone density.

Symptoms caused by this hormone: Got an ugly bout of morning sickness? It's all because of Oestrogen. It's also responsible for those crazy, middle-of-the-night cravings that keep your partner on their toes. Some women may also see a cluster of veins growing close to the skin on their face and legs. They are known as spider veins and are caused by the presence of oestrogen. Because of this, your skin colour may also change during pregnancy.

3. Progesterone

This hormone works closely with oestrogen to maintain the lining of your uterus. In doing so, it prevents your immune system from attacking the embryo, since it's recognised as a foreign body. Together with oestrogen, it also curbs further ovulation during pregnancy and slowly softens your ligaments and cartilage to prepare you for labour. During the nine months, it will also increase the growth of breast tissue and glands that prepare your body for breastfeeding.

Symptoms caused by this hormone: You will feel tenderness in your breasts, fatigue and even fluctuating moods because of this hormone.

4. Oxytocin

This hormone plays a vital role in labour, as it stimulates the ripening of the cervix and the subsequent dilation.

Symptoms caused by this hormone: Informally known as the 'love hormone', oxytocin promotes the feeling of intimacy. It's even responsible for what we call maternal instincts, as it encourages the sense of caution. Once your baby is born, this hormone strengthens the bond between you and your newborn, as oxytocin will flow every time you look at your baby.

5. Other hormones

Relaxin relaxes your bones, muscles and ligaments and softens your cervix to prepare your body for labour.

Placenta growth factor causes the growth of blood vessels.

Human Placental Lactogen (HPL) will help you prepare for breastfeeding, and also reduces your use of glucose, so that your baby can instead use it for development.

Prolactin stimulates the production of breastmilk during and after pregnancy and also stops regular ovulation.

It's the correct balance of all these hormones that is essential for a successful pregnancy. So, the next time you feel discomfort because of any of these symptoms, remember that these hormones are keeping your baby safe and healthy.

Author Bio: Prapti Chauhan is a professor of Genetics in Bangalore. She has contributed to several online research papers. However, she passionately develops contents on pregnancy, childbirth, childcare and Stem Cell Banking and cord blood stem cell preservation.

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