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How does prolactin affect me during pregnancy?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
During pregnancy, the placenta secretes a chemical called prolactin, which attaches to dopamine receptors on brain cells. Prolactin seems to turn on addicting elements in the brain, thus making you, for example, want to eat more food. But it also seems to have a protective element as well; it's likely the chemical that helps you tolerate dramatic body changes and not have as much anxiety over them as you would under different circumstances.

Prolactin stimulates your endorphin system so you feel less pain and feel more able to ignore minor anxieties. This is part of the process of learning to revel in the miracle of pregnancy and to appreciate both the sexiness and saintliness that comes along with it.
YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

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YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

Can I get a cavity filled while pregnant? Will avoiding spicy foods make my kid a picky eater? Can I really increase my baby's IQ while she's in utero? Whether you're pregnant for the first time,...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.