Pregnancy hormones and what they do

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Your hormones are set to go crazy - what's going on?

Human chorionic gonadotrophin (HGC)

Is produced about a week after conception and is present in high quantities early in pregnancy, peaking between weeks 7 and 10. It is necessary to maintain the uterus lining after egg implantation and ensures that the placenta supports the developing embryo. It contributes partially to nausea, which is why this usually decreases after your 10th week.

Progesterone

Is responsible for the growth of your placenta and relaxation of your uterus. Its relaxing effects on your ligaments can cause abdominal discomfort.

Oestrogen

Prepares your breasts for breastfeeding, and stimulates uterus growth.

Relaxin

Has a relaxing effect on your muscles, ligaments and joints, allowing the body to stretch and accommodate your growing baby. It reaches its maximum levels in the last weeks of pregnancy and can cause pain, discomfort, nausea, headaches, nasal congestion and nosebleeds.

Prostaglandin

Induces labour and encourages your uterus to contract.

Oxytocin

Stimulates contractions during labour and promotes feelings of bonding. It can also make some women feel very sexy, while having an opposite effect on others.

Endorphins

Levels of these hormones rise during labour to act as pain relievers and can make some women feel euphoric.

Adrenaline

The “flight or fight” hormone is present in large quantities during labour and redirects blood to essential organs as well as stimulating your muscles.

Prolactin

Stimulates the production of breast milk at the end of your labour.

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