The hormonal and physiological changes that come with pregnancy are unique.
Pregnant women experience sudden and dramatic increases in estrogen and progesterone. They also experience changes in the amount and function of a number of other hormones. These changes don’t just affect mood. They can also:
– Create the “glow” of pregnancy
– Significantly aid in the development of the fetus
– Alter the physical impact of exercise and physical activity on the body
What role does estrogen play in pregnancy?
Along with progesterone, estrogen is one of the two main hormones that get the pregnancy party started. Produced by the ovaries and later by the placenta, estrogen helps the uterus grow, maintains uterine lining, regulates other key hormones and triggers the development of baby’s organs. And when it’s time to breastfeed, estrogen promotes the growth of breast tissue and helps milk flow. Got a stuffy nose — or blotchy skin? Estrogen is also behind swollen mucous membranes and it causes extra blood flow to your skin, which can result in a red, itchy complexion. And estrogen joins other hormones to cause hyperpigmentation like darker nipples and melasma, brown patches on nose, cheeks and forehead.
Progesterone changes and what they feel like
Progesterone levels also are extraordinarily high during pregnancy. The changes in progesterone cause a laxity or loosening of ligaments and joints throughout the body. In addition, high levels of progesterone cause internal structures to increase in size, such as the ureters. The ureters connect the kidneys with the maternal bladder. Progesterone is also important for transforming the uterus from the size of a small pear in its non-pregnant state, to a uterus that can accommodate a full-term baby.