Immune System Function During and After Pregnancy
Hormones Strike Again!
That happy time of life called pregnancy has so many changes associated with it that it defies explanation. Of course, we are all aware that the primary "culprits" in the bulk of changes and challenges are hormones - they cause physiological changes, emotional changes and psychological changes. One of the big changes a woman experiences during pregnancy, and one she probably isn't even fully aware of, is the weakening of her immune system. Along with a weakened immune system comes the increased risk of illness, especially sicknesses that are either viral or bacterial. With the hormonal surges that accompany pregnancy, the body's defense mechanism is affected resulting in a weakened immune system. It is important for a pregnant woman to strengthen her immune system during pregnancy and postpartum as well because it takes time for the hormones to come back into balance after the baby is born.
A Body of Systems
The body is a remarkable piece of equipment and has an entire system devoted to immunities. The immune system organs include bone marrow, from where all the cells of the immune system are initially derived; the thymus which takes immature thymocytes from the bone marrow and "grows them up" into T cells that are released into the blood system; the spleen, which is a blood filter that captures foreign materials from the blood and provides immunological support; and the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are part of the lymphatic system of the body and they filter out antigens (foreign materials) from the lymph fluid before returning the fluid to circulation. When the immune system functions well, a person is able to fight off illness relatively easily. However, when the immune system functions are less than strong, illness can become an issue.
We learned in school that the body is full of various systems, all designed to keep it functioning well. One such system that is profoundly affected by bouncing hormones is the endocrine system, which is responsible for regulating the amount of hormones that a flooding the body. Several glands are involved in this system and if the hormone balance is out of kilter, then problems occur. Diabetes is one such event caused by an endocrine system that isn't working so well. Hyper- and hypothyroidism, are the result of an ill functioning endocrine system - causing weight issues, hyperactivity or fatigue, depending on which end of the scale the imbalance lies.