What to Expect in the First Trimester of Pregnancy
When a woman first becomes pregnant, a her body produces a number of different hormones that keep the baby alive and help set the groundwork for a healthy pregnancy. Knowing what these hormones are and the role that they play will give you the knowledge of what is going on in that small miracle taking place in your body.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, or hCG as it is more commonly known, is produced only during pregnancy, though it can be found in some fertility drugs. hCG is the hormone that home pregnancy tests senses confirm a pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, it is made by cells that form the placenta, which nourishes the egg after it has been fertilized and becomes attached to the uterine wall. In a healthy pregnancy this hormone level will double every two to three days. If it does not, it could indicate a problem. The amount of hCG will vary from woman to woman. For example, in week six, the American Pregnancy Association says that a woman’s hCG level can be anywhere from 1,080 – 56,500 mIU/ml. That is a big difference, so it is important not to be concerned if your hCG level is lower than someone who is as far along as you are. If your doctor is not concerned, than you should not be either.
Progesterone is a hormone that will sustain a pregnancy until the placenta is able to take over. According to the website, Just Mommies, most doctors like to see a minimum level of 10 ng/ml during the first few weeks of pregnancy A low progesterone hormone level in early pregnancy could indicate a problem, but many women have been able to take progesterone supplements and go on to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy babies.
Another hormone that your doctor will look at is your estrogen levels. Your estrogen levels should consistently rise during early pregnancy. According to the Mayo Clinic, the increasing levels of this hormone may be partially to blame for any morning sickness that you might be feeling. Dr. Eugene D. Albrecht in a March 21, 1997 article for Science Daily reported that “research has uncovered several roles for estrogen, one is to maintain pregnancy, which it may do by regulating the production of progesterone.” So be glad if you are feeling a little queasy in the early stages of pregnancy. It means that your body is doing what it is suppose to do.
Testing for Hormones
Early pregnancy hormone levels are tested with a blood draw. Typically this is done in the crook of your elbow. Results usually come in within a few hours.
If your doctor is concerned about the hCG and progesterone levels in your first blood draw, you will have to repeat the blood draw two days later at the exact same time of day as your first. This is done because the hCG is suppose to double every two to three days and they will want to get as accurate a measurement as possible.
If your early pregnancy hormone testing shows high levels, it is possible that you could be having more than one baby. However, it must be stated that many women have started out with higher than average hormone levels and have only had one baby. The only true way to know if it is twins or more is to have an ultrasound done around seven to nine weeks.