Pregnancy hormones

The effects of pregnancy hormones on your body

During pregnancy, the changing hormones coursing through your body can have negative results. Mood swings and tiredness are common – especially in the first few months. As your pregnancy progresses, you might notice other changes too.


Progesterone is at work – relaxing the valve at the entrance to the stomach and making it easier for stomach acid to flow into the oesophagus. The pressure of your growing baby on your uterus makes it worse.

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This is common during and after pregnancy, when the hormone progesterone relaxes the muscles in the intestines. With fewer contractions to push food along, combined with the extra nutrients being absorbed by the baby, there is less water – making faeces harder and drier than usual.

Drink plenty of fluids (water is always best) and make sure your pregnancy diet is filled with lots of fibre from fresh fruit and vegetables. Laxatives are not recommended during pregnancy. If you have any concerns, speak to your doctor.


This is one of pregnancy’s most common complaints and, again, progesterone is the culprit. The high levels of this hormone in your body during pregnancy lead to stretching and softening of ligaments in the pelvic area. At the end of the second trimester, when your body starts to produce a hormone called relaxin, further loosening of all your joints and ligaments helps to prepare your body for birth. With the ligaments around your spine also relaxing, this can cause extra strain on your back and hips.

Massage may help or else yoga or pilates – exercises that works on strengthening your back.

Tender Breasts

For some women, tenderness, tingling or heaviness in their breasts is the first sign that they are pregnant. Even at this early stage of your pregnancy, hormones are at work to prepare your breasts for the important business of lactation. Get a supportive, comfortable bra professionally fitted and use a pregnancy-friendly natural moisturising cream to reduce the impact of stretch marks. Some medical experts believe that taking vitamin B6 may help relieve breast soreness.

Morning Sickness

For some women, morning sickness it is merely mild nausea. For others, it is constant vomiting that could require a hospital stay. Most women find it goes away at the end of the first trimester although some women find it recurs in the later months.

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When you are pregnant, higher levels of glycogen, due to increased oestrogen levels and reduced acidity in the vagina leads to higher levels of glycogen, which feeds the growth of candida albicans. For this reason, a woman who is pregnant is ten times more likely to get thrush than a woman who isn’t pregnant.

Symptoms of thrush may include:

  • A thick, white discharge from the vagina
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Itching around your vaginal area
  • A stinging or burning sensation when passing urine
  • A stinging or burning sensation during intercourse


This article was written by Claire Halliday for Kidspot – New Zealand’s parenting resource for during your pregnancy.


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