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Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)

Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), also called corticotropin, is a pregnancy hormone secreted by the pituitary gland, like most of your other pregnancy hormones. It is usually produced as a reaction to stress and if we’re being honest pregnancy can be a bit stressful for your body, but it’s worth it!

man massaging woman's foot

If ACTH has given you swollen feet, get your partner to give you a foot massage
Free image courtesy of

During pregnancy, ACTH serves two core functions. Firstly, it stimulates the adrenal glands to secrete other important pregnancy hormones, especially glucocorticoids which include cortisol. Secondly, ACTH has been found to be an important hormone that helps your body prepare for the stress of labour giving birth.

What does ACTH do to your body?

ACTH does not directly cause any pregnancy symptoms, however, it does cause your adrenal glands to secrete hormones which cause you to experience:

  • stretch marks and
  • swelling of several of your joints

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