Hormones and the placenta

Hormones and the placenta

The placenta produces many hormones, all of them important in pregnancy. They stabilize the mother and baby, and are crucial to their health and well-being.

Credit: IPPA

Hormones produced by the placenta

*IgG (Immunoglobulin G) antibodies: These antibodies help to protect the fetus specifically in the womb.

*hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin): hCG is the indication to the mother that she is indeed carrying a healthy pregnancy via urine or blood test. These levels will rise throughout gestation. Secondly, hCG ensures that the placenta will continue to produce estrogen and progesterone which are essential to fetal development.

*HPL (Human Placental Lactogen): The hormone that the placenta releases which will stimulate the production of the maternal milk hormone prolactin in the mother. Prolactin is the hormone needed to create breast milk. HPL also regulates maternal glucose, protein and fat levels for the fetus. When you have a placenta that is excreting excess HPL, it can disrupt the normal regulation of glucose in the maternal blood causing a condition called gestational diabetes. It is considered gestational because once the placenta is detached and birthed, the mother is able to gain control of her glucose levels once again.

*Estrogen: Needed to promote the production of prolactin and to stimulate uterine growth and stretching as the baby develops.

*Progesterone: Prevents the mother’s uterus from shedding its lining which would dislodge the fetus. This hormone is essential for full term development and embryogenesis. Low levels of progesterone can lead to nicotine, marijuana and alcohol abuse as the body starts to crave serotonin boosting alternatives.

*Oxytocin: Also known as the Love Hormone. This hormone regulates the pregnancy, brings about contractions for birth, stimulates hormone and chemical change within the body, promotes lactation and encourages bonding.

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