From mood swings to appetite changes, hormones play a key role in pregnancy.

It’s no secret that pregnancy brings about hormonal changes that shape the more interesting aspects of carrying a child, like food cravings and nausea. Coping with the hormonal changes can be difficult, but understanding what the hormones are, what they do and how they affect you may help. That’s why our nurse midwife in Bradenton has come up with this guide to pregnancy hormones:

#1. Estrogen

Estrogen levels are high at the end of the first trimester because it helps to trigger the development of several of your baby’s organs and bodily systems. Estrogen also helps to enable the uterus to respond to oxytocin, and it also stimulates the growth and production of the baby’s adrenal gland. High levels of estrogen are responsible for that “pregnancy glow” that some women are lucky enough to enjoy, but can also cause spider veins, increased appetite, nausea and skin pigment changes.

#2. Progesterone

Progesterone levels are high during the first trimester, after which, they plateau. Progesterone is responsible for keeping the uterine muscles relaxed, as well as ensuring that the immune system will tolerate the baby (as it is foreign DNA). Since progesterone relaxes the uterine muscles by relaxing the blood vessels, it can cause low blood pressure, as well as heartburn, nausea, belching, gas, vomiting, constipation and dizziness.

#3. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG)

HCG is responsible for producing the placenta and cutting off the maturation of eggs every month. Levels of HCG double every other day for the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. It circulates through the body and is eventually eliminated in the urine, which is why it is the hormone that pregnancy tests are checking for. Although no one knows for sure, many doctors believe that the rise in HCG is connected with morning sickness.


#4. Prolactin

Prolactin is responsible for preparing the breast tissue to lactate and release milk, and it increases by up to 20 times throughout pregnancy. Prolactin can leave you feeling tranquil.

#5. Oxytocin

Although oxytocin is widely thought to induce labor, it is actually responsible for stretching the cervix and encouraging the nipples to start producing milk. Pitocin is the synthetic version of oxytocin, and it is commonly given to induce labor.

#6. Relaxin

Relaxin helps to relax the muscles in the uterus and loosen up the ligaments that hold the bones in the pelvis together, making it an essential hormone for preparing for delivery. Pregnant women have 10 times the amount of relaxin in their systems than women who aren’t pregnant.

Get the information and care you need throughout your pregnancy.

Hormone levels are just one of the many changes your body will endure during pregnancy, and it can be difficult to get through it all. At University Park Obstetrics and Gynecology, we can provide you with the care and information you need throughout every step of your pregnancy. In addition to our OBGYN, we are proud to say that we have a nurse midwife on staff, allowing us to handle all of your needs. Schedule your appointment today.