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The Power of Hormones: Understanding Their Role in Pregnancy & Supporting Surrogacy Journeys

Whether you’re experiencing pregnancy, hoping to apply to be a surrogate, or living with someone who is pregnant, you can appreciate the impact fluctuating hormones have on day-to-day life. From inducing nausea and triggering mood swings to drastically altering the body as it must accommodate a growing baby, the results of hormonal fluctuations can be very evident. Have you ever stopped and wondered what’s going on beneath the surface?

Below, we’ll briefly go over a few of the key hormonal fluctuations experienced throughout pregnancy and the reasons behind them to help give you a better understanding of the process.

During a pregnancy, the body undergoes unique hormonal and physiological changes. One of the first major fluctuations is with human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG. Only made during pregnancy, this hormone plays an important role and is produced almost exclusively in the placenta. It’s what is measured to confirm early pregnancy through urine tests as levels increase exponentially with each day, peaking in the first trimester.

The role of hCG is to stimulate the production of elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone to maintain the pregnancy. Once the placenta matures and is producing progesterone and estrogen on its own, hCG production drops. Before this happens, the ovaries produce these two principal pregnancy hormones which support fetal development, enable the transfer of nutrients and so much more.

For instance, estrogen is crucial in aiding the development of the female sexual traits as well as improving vascularization-the formation of blood vessels. This hormone also plays a major role in the milk duct development that enlarges the breasts during the second trimester. The levels of estrogen increase steadily and reach their extraordinarily high peak in the third trimester.

Progesterone levels are also extremely elevated during pregnancy. As they increase, it causes a laxity or loosening of ligaments and joints throughout the body. This facilitates the shift of organs a pregnant woman experiences as the baby’s growth expands the size of the uterus. Progesterone also helps the uterus grow from the size of a small pear in its non-pregnant state into one capable of carrying a full-term baby in a relatively short time.

After delivery, estrogen and progesterone levels decrease dramatically as they return to a non-pregnant state. This sharp decline can create a temporary imbalance and lead to many emotional reactions, such as a deteriorating mood commonly referred to as the “baby blues.” Navigating these hormonal fluctuations can be very challenging. Expectant mothers and surrogates are encouraged to reach out for support, get plenty of sleep and exercise moderately to help regulate the production of stress hormones and increase endorphins.

These are just three of the hormones that fluctuate significantly during pregnancy. If you’re considering becoming a surrogate, we recommend speaking with a healthcare professional about the impact of pregnancy on your body.  They can advise you on the risks and rewards of surrogacy and help you determine if it’s the right choice for you.

Infographic provided by International Surrogacy Center

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