Pregnancy Hormones

HGC – Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin = prevents the glandular tissue of the ovary(Corpus Luteum) from disintegrating

In turn the Corpus Luteum secretes Oestrogen and Progesterone to prevent the break down of the walls of the uterus (the endometrium) this allows implantation to take place

Placenta takes over from Corpus Luteum  – it also secretes Oestrogen and Progesterone as well as the Corpus Luteum

Ovaries produce Inhibin : inhibits the secretion of FSH (follicle stimulation hormone) – preventing ovulation

Relaxin produced by placenta and ovaries relaxes the pubis symphysis to dilate the cervix

Prolactin stimulates milk production

 The Three Biggies! Get to know and understand these….

  • Oxytocin – the love happy hormone – is slowly released throughout pregnancy building up this loved up feeling, aww! It is also the hormone that initiates labour, sent from the pituitary gland stimulating more contractions. The highest amount of Oxytocin comes at birth, hence the incredible feeling women express and the reason why it is so worth it! Syntocinon (a synthetic version of the naturally-occurring hormone Oxytocin) is used to induce labour if it is not occurring naturally. This synthetic version will never reach the high felt from the natural working of the body’s Oxytocin. Oxytocin needs the same conditions as sleep to work- calm, warm, dark environment, no observers, no startling or panic.
  • Endorphins – the body produces endorphins the natural pain relief hormones. Oxytocin and endorphins work together, Oxytocin is produced to stimulate the labour and the walls of the uterus contract, and if this is too much for the body it produces endorphins to relieve pain. If the endorphins reach a high level the body picks this up and slows down the production of Oxytocin therefore slowing the contractions easing the pain. The body is always working in harmony when left to it’s own devices.
  • Adrenalin – produced in the adrenals – our fight or flight reaction, if we panic or get frightened this hormone will start close the cervix and stop the production of oxytocin. The idea behind this is, imagine you are tribal living (centuries ago)and when you go into labour the body produces  oxytocin and endorphins…. Suddenly a herd of wild boar or another tribe comes your way – you react and act for survival, adrenalin kicks in stopping the labour process enabling you to move to a safer location – then once relaxed – labour will start again. Adrenalin and Oxytocin are not friends and do not work together. A modern version of the tribal adrenalin is a panic hospital. even if you are birthing in hospital remember to stay as clam as possible stress and panic will only cause adrenalin to stay high and keep closing the cervix. Not what you need!

So the lesson there is, the more relaxed you are the better the body is at working correctly for the labour. It instinctively knows what to do – as long as you let it. Whether you are having a home birth or hospital birth, know your birth plan so that you are aware of the process and stay as calm as possible.





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