Besides your baby, you should also anticipate the other things that come with pregnancy, such as weight gain and mood swings. Your body will be undergoing many changes, physically and mentally. If you’re worried about going through these, don’t worry because there’s a reasonable explanation to these symptoms.
Even on regular days, your body has lots of hormones because these chemicals help regulate bodily functions. However, during pregnancy, there are hormones excreted by your glands to help develop your baby.
In the first trimester, your body produces the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG) to help create the placenta. Too high hCG levels may mean that you have multiple pregnancies, while low hCG translates to placenta development problems. Researchers have also found a link between hCG and nausea in pregnant women.
Human placental lactogen (hPL) is another pregnancy hormone. Its role is in metabolism regulation and insulin resistance. With these roles, hPL helps your placenta get as many nutrients as your baby needs. This hormone is also a simulator for breastfeeding and lactation.
In the first trimester, you will notice yourself become more moody and anxious. These symptoms are because of the spiking levels of estrogen and progesterone.
These female hormones are commonly present at high levels during menstruation. But once pregnant, these hormone levels will rise dramatically, until they reach their peak in the third trimester. But what else do these hormones do to your body and brain?
Effects Of Estrogen
Estrogen is one of the hormones found in every woman. This hormone regulates your menstrual cycle, controls your cholesterol levels, and protects your bones. Besides these, studies have found estrogen’s effect on premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and perimenopausal depression.
However, researchers are yet to determine the exact connection of estrogen with mental health disorders. As of now, studies have only found a link between estrogen and cortisol, a stress hormone regulating your fight-or-flight response.
Estrogen can also affect the production of your happy hormone, endorphin. Studies suggest a link between estrogen fluctuation and mood disorders, but not between estrogen itself and mood disorders.
So the connection between estrogen levels and your mental health persists after pregnancy. Post-birth, the ultra-high levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones drop to the normal levels, and your body may take this as a hormonal fluctuation.
Because of this, your mental health may be affected as you experience mood swings and difficulty sleeping (insomnia). You can also have feelings of loneliness, anger, and anxiety. All of these are symptoms of what is called postpartum depression.
The loss of sleep can also increase cortisol levels, which may lead to further stress for mommies. Insomnia will also affect your mental health negatively as the stress can progress to anxiety or depression.
Effects Of Progesterone
Similarly, progesterone levels increase during pregnancy and drop significantly after giving birth. Progesterone is one of the sex hormones regulating your body’s menstrual cycle. After ovulation, your progesterone levels will increase to signal your body to thicken the uterus lining and lessen muscle contractions. These simple changes promote fertility.
During pregnancy, both the placenta and your body are secreting progesterone. This increase is needed because progesterone helps maintain your pregnancy.
Because of progesterone’s high levels during pregnancy, you may feel more anxious and irritable than usual. The connection between progesterone and PMS can explain this negative change in mental health. On the other hand, low levels of this hormone may result in pre-term birth or even miscarriage.
Since progesterone is vital to your baby’s growth and is responsible for maintaining pregnancy, progesterone levels should continuously increase. As a result, your mood changes can continue to worsen. If your mental health becomes severely affected by your pregnancy hormones, it’s time you consult your doctor.
Taking Care Of Your Mental Health During Pregnancy
While you are pregnant, there are many factors that can affect your mood, and the hormones are just some of them. Different women have different bodies, and will thus have different pregnancy experiences. Some can feel more moody and anxious during pregnancy, while others may barely have a change in their mental health.
Shifting to healthier food options will help in your baby’s development and soothe your mind. Always opt for healthy and balanced meals to take care of both your physical and mental health. Aside from having a healthy diet, it is necessary to exercise regularly. You can take on light to moderately-severe exercises to improve you and your baby’s wellness during pregnancy.
You should also surround yourself with loving and supportive people. Having someone willing to understand what you’re going through will help you get through the pregnancy changes.
It is also essential to talk to your doctor. During pregnancy, your doctor will be monitoring your bodily changes, including your hormone levels. They’ll be guiding you throughout your pregnancy, so there’s no need to worry much. Just be sure to communicate with them effectively to help avoid any complications.
Seeking a therapist can also help you and your mental health, especially when your mood swings worsen. A therapist can give you ways to handle the stresses and other mental health inconveniences caused by your pregnancy hormones.
Pregnancy is indeed a challenging process. Your reproductive hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, will be increasing to support your pregnancy. As a result, there will be changes in both your physical and mental health you’ve never experienced before.
Just remember, every pregnancy is unique, so don’t compare your pregnancy to others. Instead of worrying about your changes, learn how to manage them by seeking support from your family and medical professionals.