Hormones are chemical messages caused by the endocrine glands. Progesterone and estrogen are the two main hormones that affect pregnancy, and they control bodily functions such as reproduction, emotions and hunger.
Progesterone levels are high throughout pregnancy, increasing the size of internal structures like the placenta and uterus. They can also lead to a laxity or loosening of joints and ligaments in the body.
Estrogen levels increase during the first trimester. In the second trimester, this hormone has a role in developing milk ducts. Estrogen allows the uterus and placenta to support foetal development.
Relaxin is a hormone that is released in in preparation for labour, softening the cervix and relaxing the ligaments in the pelvis.
How do hormones affect pregnancy exercise?
Due to the loosening of ligaments, there’s a greater risk of injury. As the abdomen becomes convex, the curve of the lumbar spine will increase. The load on your upper spine can also increase during pregnancy. Your posture will change, and this can lead to pelvic and spinal pain, impacting the type of exercise you can perform while pregnant.
Exercise during pregnancy
Your Sports Focus women’s health physiotherapist can advise you on what type of exercise is safe during pregnancy. Low-impact exercise (Pilates, walking, swimming) can help reduce the impact of hormones and strengthen the spine and joints. Maintaining low-impact exercise can help you maintain fitness, reduce fluid retention and improve blood supply.