Home / Family Articles / Hormones during pregnancy

Hormones during pregnancy

hormones during pregnancy

Written by:

Hormones During Pregnancy

The image of a blissful expectant mother is one all pregnant women aspire to.  Sadly, that is not the reality for many women, with at least 10% experiencing bouts of depression during pregnancy, and many more suffering mood swings and undesirable physical symptoms.

The cause of all this upheaval are your hormones.  These clever chemicals are released by the body to trigger changes, an essential role in helping the body prepare for, and grow, a baby.  However, hormones during pregnancy also have an impact of the levels of neurotransmitters that control chemical messages in the brain.  This, along with general feelings you may be experiencing about your pregnancy, can have a significant impact on your mood and behaviour, and not always in a positive way.

What Hormones?

The simple answer is many and various, but the three key super-hormones in pregnancy are:

  • Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin – (hCG) – the hormone used for detection in home pregnancy kits, it has many roles including stimulating extra production of oestrogen and progesterone, and its abundant presence in the first trimester contributes to morning sickness, increased urine production, and suppression of the immune system
  • Oestrogen – helps the uterus grow, increases blood circulation, promotes the growth of your baby, and can make skin more sensitive
  • Progesterone – keeps the placenta and womb lining healthy, stimulates breast growth, softens tummy muscles, and helps the body make room for the growing baby, softening joints and ligaments along the way

Affects on Your Mood

When you start to consider the way hormones are affecting you  physically it is easy to see how this can affect your mood.

Needing to pee more regularly, and morning sickness – two common hormonal effects of pregnancy on  your body.  Who wouldn’t get a little grumpy about this?  Then you have hCG suppressing your immune system to help ensure your body doesn’t reject the baby.  Many women pick up colds and other bugs as a result.  In the early days particularly pregnancy can seem like a constant round of mot feeling great, resulting in general irritability in even the most cheery of ladies.

Increased blood flow in the body may be necessary for your baby, but it also softens mucus membranes in the nose, so many pregnant women end up feeling blocked up and stuffy-nosed for nine months, which is no fun.

Leaving physical effects aside, the chemical changes in your brain can leave many women feeling very low for no apparent reason.  Tearfulness, anxiety, and a degree of negative obsession can occur in many women, along with an overwhelming fatigue that often takes over the body in the first trimester

Happily, some women seem to experience few if any of these symptoms.  If this is you, enjoy your pregnancy glow and count your blessings!  As a father, offering support, understanding (even if you don’t), and a hug when needed is the best remedy.  There is no quick fix here, and simply being there for your pregnant partner is really important.


Affects on Your Relationship

Mood swings may result in tension in your relationship as your partner struggles to understand the onslaught that you and your body are being subjected to.  Talking together about what you are experiencing can help, as can reading up on hormones and what they do during pregnancy, as this will reassure you both that what you are going through is normal.

As your body changes during pregnancy this may affect your own self-image, and also the way your partner sees you.  Bigger breasts, slack tummy muscles, and extra weight can make your body feel like a stranger to you both.  Sex may be off the agenda due to discomfort, fear of hurting the baby (you won’t), or simply because levels of attraction between the two of you have shifted.

This can be tricky for the father to cope with, as he may feel rejected and pushed out.  For the women you may feel unattractive.  Understanding that each other’s reactions are valid will help you to hold those feelings during the pregnancy and not allow them to damage your relationship.

Affects on Your Life in General

Hormones are not particularly discerning.  They exist to perform a very necessary function in the production of your baby, but additional side effects can include:

  • Fatigue – you may be unable to work or function effectively as a result of the debilitating tiredness that hormones can cause.  Listen to your body, it needs the energy elsewhere
  • Baby Brain – characterised as forgetfulness this is not scientifically proven, but many women experience it
  • Aches and Pains – softening joints, a shifting pelvis and squashed internal organs can all make you feel pretty uncomfortable, and you may find it difficult to exercise, or undertake very energetic tasks if your hormones affect you in this way



About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

View all posts by