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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Explain how estrogen, progesterone, and hCG are involved in maintaining pregnancy
  • List the contributors to weight gain during pregnancy
  • Describe the major changes to the maternal digestive, circulatory, and integumentary systems during pregnancy
  • Summarize the events leading to labor
  • Identify and describe each of the three stages of childbirth

A full-term pregnancy lasts approximately 270 days (approximately 38.5 weeks) from conception to birth. Because it is easier to remember the first day of the last menstrual period (LMP) than to estimate the date of conception, obstetricians set the due date as 284 days (approximately 40.5 weeks) from the LMP. This assumes that conception occurred on day 14 of the woman’s cycle, which is usually a good approximation. The 40 weeks of an average pregnancy are usually discussed in terms of three trimesters , each approximately 13 weeks. During the second and third trimesters, the pre-pregnancy uterus—about the size of a fist—grows dramatically to contain the fetus, causing a number of anatomical changes in the mother ( [link] ).

Size of uterus throughout pregnancy

This figure shows a woman’s body and marks the size of the uterus as it grows throughout pregnancy.
The uterus grows throughout pregnancy to accommodate the fetus.

Effects of hormones

Virtually all of the effects of pregnancy can be attributed in some way to the influence of hormones—particularly estrogens, progesterone, and hCG. During weeks 7–12 from the LMP, the pregnancy hormones are primarily generated by the corpus luteum. Progesterone secreted by the corpus luteum stimulates the production of decidual cells of the endometrium that nourish the blastocyst before placentation. As the placenta develops and the corpus luteum degenerates during weeks 12–17, the placenta gradually takes over as the endocrine organ of pregnancy.

The placenta converts weak androgens secreted by the maternal and fetal adrenal glands to estrogens, which are necessary for pregnancy to progress. Estrogen levels climb throughout the pregnancy, increasing 30-fold by childbirth. Estrogens have the following actions:

  • They suppress FSH and LH production, effectively preventing ovulation. (This function is the biological basis of hormonal birth control pills.)
  • They induce the growth of fetal tissues and are necessary for the maturation of the fetal lungs and liver.
  • They promote fetal viability by regulating progesterone production and triggering fetal synthesis of cortisol, which helps with the maturation of the lungs, liver, and endocrine organs such as the thyroid gland and adrenal gland.
  • They stimulate maternal tissue growth, leading to uterine enlargement and mammary duct expansion and branching.

Relaxin, another hormone secreted by the corpus luteum and then by the placenta, helps prepare the mother’s body for childbirth. It increases the elasticity of the symphysis pubis joint and pelvic ligaments, making room for the growing fetus and allowing expansion of the pelvic outlet for childbirth. Relaxin also helps dilate the cervix during labor.

The placenta takes over the synthesis and secretion of progesterone throughout pregnancy as the corpus luteum degenerates. Like estrogen, progesterone suppresses FSH and LH. It also inhibits uterine contractions, protecting the fetus from preterm birth. This hormone decreases in late gestation, allowing uterine contractions to intensify and eventually progress to true labor. The placenta also produces hCG. In addition to promoting survival of the corpus luteum, hCG stimulates the male fetal gonads to secrete testosterone, which is essential for the development of the male reproductive system.

Questions & Answers

Rheumatoid arthritis affects
Jessica Reply
what is oedema
Nantumbwe Reply
i want abook about physiology including the vitamins
Belal
fluid retention in the body. (also spelt as edema) e.g. fluid retention in the lungs is called Pulmonary Edema). It can also happen as a result of Injury manifested as swelling.
Arif
can you give me an example of a tissue composed of few related types of cells
Theresa Reply
What is LMx1600
Mae Reply
the skeletal system includes all of the bones
All Reply
what is the bone not contain red bone marrow in medulla
Duha Reply
To know the part of human body
Sarah Reply
Anatomy refers to as structure of human body
Sarah
so is the macroscopic and microscopic the types of anatomy
Gloria Reply
is microscopic and macroscopic a type of anatomy
Gloria
yes
Maxine
yes
Yabsra
yes
Sarah
Please can someone explain three glands in endocrine system?
josh
.
Robin
can someone explain disease and the category
gege
type 2 is controled by diet
Chloe Reply
Diet and life style
Paias
Diet how? maybe eating food containing less sugar?
BTS
we must eat protein food to check our diet
Sarah
type 2 diabetes cannot be controlled by insulin so therefore your diet should be well balanced especially you shouldn't eat foods with high sugar level or stopping sugar at all so that the sugar content needed by your body will be provided by the balanced diet taken
Enada
what is hypotension
regina Reply
hypotension is when the blood pressure is less than 60/50
Mursal
hypo means low so it implies low blood pressure
Isaac
ok
Mursal
what is mild DKA
Mursal
mild diabetic ketoacidosis is when there is high level of sugar in the blood and the ketone bodies build up in the body ,is a type 1 which can lead to type 2
Isaac
what is the normal range for blood pressure?
BTS
120 over 80
Danielle
low blood pressure; opposite of high blood pressure which is hypertension
Regina
what if your a type 2 diabetic and you have no way to get meds due to no insurance what is some good over the counter medications to take?
Ashley
type 2 diabets is controlled by diet not meds.type 1 is contolled by insulin.
Chloe
type 1 diabets cant be controlled type 2 can be controlled.type 1 is worse than type 2 diabets.
Chloe
type 2 is purely a lifestyle disease, eat healthy, fresh, natural unprocessed real foods.
Danielle
sometime , we already eat diabetic diet than the results of blood sugar level not turn good , what is the reason ?
Muhammad
What is a "diabetic diet" though? Be specific. Juvenile diabetes and/or Type 1 diabetes is something that one can be born with, this needs medical diagnosis and intervention.
Danielle
what i mean by diabetic diet is we take fiber-rich food like vegetables,nut and also fish.
Muhammad
ok, no cause a doctor told me I needed metformin and my suger won't go under 300
Ashley
what is the difference between plasma and serum
Gloria Reply
Plasma contains fibrinogen while serum doesn't
Kateregga
plasma ----- fibrinogen = serum
Sneha
serum is blood plasma without fibrinogen or other clotting factors While blood plasma contains dissolved protein like fibrinogen,globulin, and albumin), glucose, clotting factors,mineral ions like Na2+,Cl-1,hormones and carbon dioxide
Prince
In what time stomach empty it's content in to doudemun? what is chyme?
Sneha Reply
write the chemical and mechanical digestion which occurs in stomach?
Sneha
Does absorption take place in stomach? what are absorption in the stomach by which cell?
Sneha
Chemical digestion---Mixtures of the food with the gastric acid Mechanical digestion--- churning of the food in the stomach making it become more involved into chyme
Mercy
absorption takes place in the small intestine because of the presence of the villi
Enada
name the muscles supplied redina nerve
Appu Reply
mechanism of hormone releasing by gland
said Reply
why is muscle tissue not considered to be a type of connective tissue?
Ezel Reply
A Skeletal muscles consist of numerous muscles cells called Muscle Fibers . Three layers of connective tissues surrounded these fibers to make the muscles tissues
Manisha
that's wny connective tissues is not considered as muscles fibers
Manisha
there are 4 types of tissues : epithelial, connective tissue, nervous tissue and muscle tissue, each one has its own properties. The main function of connective tissue is nutrition, it supplies nutrientes to epithelial tissues that are responsible for protection.
Ariete
Muscle tissue has properties that allow movement, the function here is movement and not nutrition like connective tissue.
Ariete
In what time stomach empty it's content in to doudemun?
Sneha
write the chemical and mechanical digestion which occurs in stomach?
Sneha
Does absorption take place in stomach? what are absorption in the stomach by which cell?
Sneha
Does absorption take place in stomach? what are the absorption in the stomach by which cell?
Sneha
mechanism of hormone controlling releasing by gland
said
please can someone explain renin angiotensin aldosteron system for me
okolie

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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