Pregnancy hormones. Two words that make most women, pregnant or not, cringe. Yes, sometimes women pass through pregnancy without any issues or complications, including hormonal ones. But most women, to some degree or another, will experience some hormonal issues. The thing is, the information online and passed through family and friends can also sometimes make things seem more confusing than they are. One article says one thing, while another article contradicts what the first article says. Oh boy. What’s a woman to do, especially if her body and brain are swinging between these two extremes? Most of us fall somewhere in the middle and we are just trying to figure it all out.
Everyone knows that a woman gets either more food cravings or loses her appetite during pregnancy. Most women have also heard of “nesting” periods where their body and brain are preparing so intently for the baby that they have crazy amounts of energy and feel like they could climb a mountain. But then, there are other things she may hear about how her body will react in pregnancy that are not necessarily true, or are downright false.
How can a woman tell the difference? She may not know who to turn to or where to look. The best resource is her medical care practitioner who can debunk a lot of myths surrounding pregnancy hormones. If she is shy to ask anyone on her medical team, she could always have a look below. After perusing many different articles, there really is a lot of good information out there. It’s just a matter of reading long enough to find it! So, what are some of the more common misunderstood things about pregnancy hormones that women have experienced? Here are 12 of them:
12 She Can't Actually Eat As Much As She Wants
Remember hearing how a woman can eat all she wants when she is pregnant as she is eating for two? Though it is true she is eating food that will be passed down to baby and therefore in some way she's eating for baby, she is not really one hundred percent doing the healthy thing doubling up all her portions. It’s important to eat nutritiously to keep herself healthy and for baby to grow, but anything else will just cause her excess weight gain and not necessarily be good for baby. I know, I also said it’s the baby who wants Doritos, not me, but hey, pregnancy hormones notwithstanding, it’s the Mom who decides what she puts in her body for better or worse. It’s really better if she makes the healthy choice.
11 Emotions Will Be Exaggerated
A lot of women have anxiety and stress that they are already dealing with prior to baby’s conception. They may even have a condition that they are being treated for. Or a woman can be brushing off anxieties or tensions as just fluke timing. It is important that she learns to really read her body, as these two things can come full circle in pregnancy when she has to deal with anxiety and stress she may not even have thought she had - on top of being pregnant.
Pregnancy hormones can exacerbate women’s psychological emotions like anxiety, depression and other types of mood swings. Her own biological makeup as well as the pregnancy hormones themselves would be causing this. Her pregnancy may heighten some of her feelings of depression and make it feel unmanageable. She need not feel this way though. There is help out there in therapeutic - and medicinal - form if necessary.
10 They Are Connected To Fears
Being a Mom is so much more than just carrying life inside of oneself and then giving birth. It is really about all the emotions that having a baby brings up in a woman’s psyche, namely how her life will change as she knows it. She is now responsible for another living things, feeding, changing, raising and nurturing it and this can be truly scary to someone who has only had herself to be concerned with up until that point.
Being a Mom makes many women also question their own self-identity. What makes them tick? What are their values and belief systems, religious and otherwise? Hormones will affect a woman’s emotions and these kinds of issues will come up and may cause a woman to go a little 'crazy' for awhile. She needs to be aware that the hormonal fluctuations are normal and that she should not be too hard on herself.
9 They Are To Blame For Pregnancy Brain
Lots of women experience something called “forgetfulness” or “pregnancy brain” while they are pregnant; things like forgetting where she put her keys, cell phone or what she has to do next on her chore list. This can start happening more and more as a woman progresses through pregnancy. This is more evidence of her hormonal changes affecting her mood, and though she makes jokes about “mommy brain” it is true that it is a serious thing.
With all the biological changes happening inside a woman’s body, there are also the psychological changes that the various different hormones like progesterone and estrogen cause in her body, and how her individual body will react. Not every women’s body responds the same way, but more and more studies are showing that this foggy brain situation is common in a lot of women due to the hormone overload.
8 They Make Women Cry
Many women who were not overly sentimental and would cry over an emotional scene in a movie or be brought to tears picking out newborn outfits and fixing up the baby room, now would experience teary eyed emotions at just the thought of holding their little one in their arms. Some women who experienced PMS prior to pregnancy know what this is like and would not be shocked, but many women would also wonder where are these weepy or super choked up moments are coming from? That’s right. Hormones are at work again.
They also help with bonding with one’s newborn so there is really a reason she has to make sure to wear that waterproof mascara! It can be jarring and a little unsettling for women who were not super emotional before to now have to deal with these new emotions.
7 Worse For Women Who Have Anxiety
Then there are the studies that used to say that pregnancy protected women from depression and other mental health issues. Now the medical community knows more, and one thing that they know is that pregnancy hormones can worsen pre-existing anxiety and psychiatric conditions in women who are suffering from them. It is important that they are cautioned about this from their medical care practitioners and are careful to watch their bodies and minds for signs of feeling out of control, down or overwhelmed.
Many women may downplay the effects of how they are feeling putting it down to general impending motherhood. However, it is important that she take her mental health seriously and seek emotional, and possibly whatever medical support she can get to be as healthy for herself and her baby as possible.
6 Don't Forget About HCG's Role
This is the famous hormone that causes the little line on the pregnancy stick to appear or not. It’s the raising levels of this in a woman’s blood that tell her if her life is going to change forever or not. Exciting and pretty scary stuff when one comes to think of it! It also has been known to affect things like her nausea levels. Women who are more nauseous and vomit more often usually have higher HCG levels than women who do not. Sometimes these rising levels affect things like appetite as well and tiredness. A woman puts a lot on herself, but most of the time it is hormonally induced and she needs to learn to balance how she feels hormonally with the rest of what is going on in her life.
5 Goodbye Sense Of Humor
For some women the hormonal fluctuations are so bad they may not even recognize themselves and how they are handling things. Women who once were able to laugh at the small things may suddenly find that they are irritated by little things their partner, family or co-workers do. They may be stressed about situations in the world they did not feel too stressed about before. After all, they are bringing a child into this crazy world now; will they do a good job keeping him/her safe? Mainly though, pregnancy hormones may just upset her emotional balance and how she looks at life as it effects mood, as much as it affects appetite and exhaustion levels. She’ll learn this soon enough and may need to remind herself it’s just temporary at least.
4 Thank You Relaxin
Again those pregnancy hormones are at work in a way women may not initially be aware of. The hormone Relaxin is one that relaxes certain parts of the female anatomy in preparation for childbirth. It is responsible for the loosening up the ligaments of the pelvic bone as well as the uterine muscles. These ligaments are instrumental in delivering baby safely through the birth canal.
Women will have 10 times the normal amount of this hormone in their system during pregnancy, so it is no matter if her ligaments feel kind of loose. Things she may experience as a result are a loosening and different feeling of control over her shoulders, knees, hips and ankles. The result is that she may experience more pain, aches, and inflammation in her joints. There is also the old clumsiness feeling of tending to trip more often. Fun.
3 Prolactin Helps Milk Production
Then there is the hormone Prolactin. This hormone is responsible for the production of milk in her body to be released through her breasts when the time comes to feed baby. This will also affect her emotions and mood. Tension can interfere with milk production. This hormone increases 10-20 times during pregnancy and as the levels of it go up in a woman’s system it has a tranquilizing effect. She will feel more calm and relaxed, and this will also help with bonding with baby.
Of course her breasts will initially be sore when milk is coming in, but again this is a temporary discomfort as her body prepares for eventually feeding baby. It’s normal if she feels odd and a little nervous, but taking things one day at a time is the best way to proceed.
2 It's A Love-Hate Relationship
Then there are the two camps of women who go through two types of emotion while pregnant. There are those that love their newly pregnant and ever expanding body as it is housing their future child. And there are the women who are excited about becoming Moms and their little one growing inside, but who may gradually become more depressed watching their body shapes change while a lot of this is out of their control.
Hormones can affect how she feels about her body too, and though she may be expecting mood swings, she may not be prepared for how emotionally she’ll react to her changing body. The same emotions that can make them more emotionally open to baby’s crying and suffering may also play into their own concerns and worries about their body; that is regaining their figure and energy levels after delivering.
1 Turns Her Into Wonder Woman Or...
Finally, many of the hormonal changes that will affect how energetic she feels, how her body and skin look like, and what kind of food she likes and dislikes, will also impact how strong or weak she feels during pregnancy in her own body. This could go either way, and it could even change day-to-day as some days she will feel great in her body and other days not so great.
For some women, the positive or negative body feelings are pretty consistent though. The important thing for her to remember is that pregnancy hormones are fluctuating hourly and daily in her body, and this will impact her emotions. As she adjusts to pregnancy, she will learn to read her emotions better and she will hopefully have stronger feeling days in her body rather than weaker.