Pregnancy & Post Natal

Hormonal changes during pregnancy

The hormonal and physiological changes that come both during and after with pregnancy are unique. Pregnant women experience sudden and dramatic increases in Oestrogen and Progesterone. Common symptoms often experienced during pregnancy due to these hormonal changes include;

  • Tender, swollen breasts. 
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Increased urination
  • Fatigue
  • Food cravings and aversions
  • Heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Fluid retention, swelling of the face and limbs
  • Vision changes

Pregnant women 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 foetus
  • alter the physical impact of exercise and physical activity on the body

Oestrogen and progesterone are the chief pregnancy hormones. A woman will produce more Oestrogen during one pregnancy than throughout her entire life when not pregnant. The increase in Oestrogen during pregnancy enables the uterus and placenta to:

  • improve vascularization (the formation of blood vessels)
  • transfer nutrients
  • support the developing baby

In addition, Oestrogen is thought to play an important role in helping the foetus develop and mature.

Oestrogen levels increase steadily during pregnancy and reach their peak in the third trimester. The rapid increase in Oestrogen levels during the first trimester may cause some of the nausea associated with pregnancy. During the second trimester, it plays a major role in the milk duct development that enlarges the breasts.

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.

Hormone changes after childbirth

A woman’s body undergoes a major transformation during pregnancy. But, in the hours, days and weeks after childbirth, hormone levels drop rapidly back down to their nonpregnant levels. A post natal women’s health and body after birth often gets overlooked, as they cope with the admittedly big issues of caring for baby and functioning on little sleep. 

When a post natal woman feels unprepared or is struggling to cope with all of the changes to their physical health after they’ve had a baby, they are more likely feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or depressed, which is the very opposite of how they want to feel as a new mother.

The dramatic drop in Oestrogen and Progesterone levels after giving birth can contribute to the “baby blues” (mood swings, anxiety, sadness or irritability, which resolve within a week or so of birth) or postpartum depression (similar symptoms that are more intense, last longer and interfere with your daily life).

Meanwhile, Oxytocin, the “bonding hormone,” floods the system right after delivery. Oxytocin turns on mothering behaviour, so an increase in Oxytocin can trigger an increase in anxiety. These hormones influence one another in a complex dance and can affect energy and mood. The body could benefit from more Progesterone at this time, which is a natural anti-anxiety substance, however Progesterone levels are low right after birth, so this combination can lead to postpartum anxiety. It’s quite normal for a woman to feel all over the place with their mood for several months, as hormones eventually level out. 

Thyroid hormones, which help regulate body temperature, metabolism and organ function, can also be affected after giving birth. Five to 10 % of women can suffer from postpartum thyroiditis, an inflammation of the thyroid gland, and the exact cause isn’t known. Symptoms can include insomnia, anxiety, rapid heart rate, fatigue, weight loss and irritability (one to four months after birth) or fatigue, weight gain, constipation, dry skin and depression (4 to 8 months after birth).

BOMIMO believes that by supporting women to look after their nutritional health both during pregnancy and after giving birth, by helping them to restore nutrient and hormone levels back to pre-pregnancy levels, and by helping them to regain muscle mass, this nutritional support will contribute towards improving how a woman experiences the early days of motherhood.