Starting at week fourteenth, the placenta begins to operate fully, constantly pumping high levels of estrogen and progesterone, in addition to hormones another. Just so you really understand, in one day, a pregnant woman produces more estrogen than a woman who is not pregnant, a pre-monopausal woman in three weeks. That’s not even counting progesterone, which also rocketed up. The reason? These two hormones play a big role in preparing and supporting pregnancy.
Here are some of the functions of the hormone estrogen in your pregnancy:
- By increasing the number and size of the blood vessels that supply the uterus, estrogen helps increase blood flow, ensuring your growing baby is getting enough nutrition. In fact, ten times as much blood flow to the uterus as during the beginning to the end of pregnancy.
- Apart from helping to thicken the uterine lining to prepare for implantation, estrogen also plays an important role in increasing the overall size of the uterus. It does this by increasing the size of the uterine cells, so that the uterus can stretch to accommodate the growing baby.
- Estrogen helps increase the number of white blood cells in the blood, thereby enhancing immune function. This is very beneficial because pregnancy is an immune suppressed condition, but you still need to protect the fetus from infection. The elevated white blood cells move along with blood clotting factors.
- Serves to reduce the possibility of bleeding in the uterus and placenta which have many blood vessels (and thus reduce the possibility of not supplying nutrients to the baby) and reduce bleeding during childbirth. The downside of this partnership is the increased chance of blood clots forming in your legs and in other places.
One of the most beautiful ways to see how estrogen works is the pregnancy glow that you may display on your skin. Although many people think you are happy, proud, and full of enthusiasm for planning to buy cute baby shoes, it is actually because of the physical effects of pregnancy. Estrogen stimulates your blood vessels to get more of the effect of nitric oxide, which opens up your arteries and hair vessels. As a result, the blood flow to your baby increases and, as a side effect, your skin looks radiant.
As you can see, these changes are for the most part good: Increased estrogen is designed to treat and protect your baby. But, you can also imagine that with a hormonal surge like that, you are likely to feel a number of changes that are not at all pleasant.