Hormones! Pregnancy! Whoohoo! – Part 2 of 2

It’s arrival time – delivery! More emotions and more hormones!

During delivery, your body works to deliver the baby and hormones are in play big time. A simple statement and a complicated system.

Your estrogen and progesterone levels change again – rapidly once delivery is complete.

There’s an increase in another hormone, oxytocin. This hormone does many things. It can cause you to feel like you need to ‘nest.’ You may have a greater urge to be ready for the delivery. If you don’t feel you need to nest, it’s Ok. Many people spend a lot of time getting ready for the birth weeks in advance and ‘feel’ ready. But if, out of the blue, you feel like baking or cleaning, or doing extra prep a few days before your due date…it might the nesting urge kicking in.

Oxytocin can spark the bond between the mother and newborn while helping with the release of breast milk. But not all mothers will bond like magic to the newborns. In conversations with a physician who has delivered hundreds of babies over the years, she has spoken of many times when the mother didn’t bond with the infant. The bonding evolved over a longer period.

Oxytocin helps make contractions happen for delivery and can ease some pain during labour. It also it plays a part in producing milk.

Relaxin (mentioned in Part 1) and prostaglandins helps the delivery along by letting the cervix adjust and widen.

After delivery…

Alright. Just like that…once the delivery is completed the body isn’t pregnant. As a result hormones start adjusting to this next stage. Hormones play a role in the post-partum period. That’s the time period of about 6 weeks after delivery.

Once the infant and placenta are delivered the pregnancy is complete.

During delivery, other hormones called endorphins help manage the pain. These are your ‘feel good’ hormones, and they can stay at a heightened level for a day or two after delivery. You can feel amazing which is great.

Then, because your body is adjusting, the endorphins start dropping. This drop in endorphins can cause you to feel a little sad, a little blue – something called once called the ‘baby blues.’ However, it needn’t last very long. If it does, it might mean there’s some post-partum depression or you might need more support than you thought to manage life with a newborn.

During this time, you’re likely to be sleep deprived, sore, overwhelmed and those feelings can trigger a wide range of emotional reactions, too.

If you are breastfeeding, the hormones to help your body produce milk and breast feed might cause you cramps while you’re breastfeeding. Why? Because hormones can do more than one thing. Oxytocin helps with breast milk and uterine contractions. You might experience cramps when breastfeeding.

At the end of the day – hormones during pregnancy are vital chemicals the body produces to manage the pregnancy.

Each stage of pregnancy releases hormones to accomplish a wide range of tasks to help the pregnancy be as healthy as possible. The next stage you would most likely notice is the return of your periods, and for every woman that timeline can be different. However, because of hormones and their role during breast feeding, your period won’t return until you’ve stopped (weaned) feeding.

What else?

Pregnancy is common (more than 350,000 known deliveries each day around the world) and it is remarkable how the human body does it. OK – it’s amazing from the biology point of view. It can be amazing in others ways depending upon your spiritual beliefs, your attitudes and perspectives.

All that being said, pregnancy changes life in ways you may not anticipate. If you’re keeping the newborn you will have a different life than before, and if you are placing the newborn into adoption or have been a surrogate, you still have a different life than before the pregnancy.

During pregnancy, hormonal changes can shape how you feel emotionally and physically. Your body is changing to accommodate the pregnancy and often those changes become obvious. But, hidden in your heart you have your own thoughts and emotions about the pregnancy. And, you have a life in with other things happening that are influencing your stress levels and how you’re able to react, sometimes.

If you’re confused, curious or feeling anxious, please talk to your health care team. It’s important for your wellbeing to connect to supports AND understand your pregnancy and your choices are unique to you.

PS… the study of hormones is complicated and layered and this is a very brief article. If you have concerns or are curious, please talk to your health care professionals and get the right information for YOU.

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