Get That Pregnancy Glow
For many women, pregnancy is a time when you’ve never looked better. But unfortunately for some, it doesn’t quite work out this way. The skin changes women experience in pregnancy are varied and result from changes in your body’s hormone levels.
Emily Manning explores some of the most common pregnancy beauty niggles, so you know what to expect, and how to treat any that may arise.
Caused by tiny tears in the tissue that lies just below your skin, helping your skin to stretch, these marks appear in almost 90 per cent of all pregnant women. They usually show up in the latter half of pregnancy as pink, reddish-brown or dark brown lines (depending on your skin colour).
While the majority will be on your abdomen, they can also be found on the thighs, hips, buttocks, breasts and upper arms. You can try to minimise them by avoiding putting on weight too quickly and by using a vitamin E-rich oil or cream to keep skin supple. Eventually, the stretch marks will fade, becoming thin, silvery lines.
If you have a problem with acne already, it may become more irritated during pregnancy. Higher levels of hormones can encourage the production of sebum – the oil that keeps our skin supple – and too much causes pores to become blocked, resulting in greasy skin and spots. Try to maintain a strict cleansing routine, and perhaps invest in a facial that will help to clear your skin.
Dark skin patches
Hyperpigmentation, or darkening of the skin, occurs in most pregnant women, with hormonal changes causing the darkening of skin that is already darker than the rest – areas such as freckles, moles, nipples, genital skin, armpits and inner thighs tend to get even darker.
Concealer and foundation can help hide any darker pigmentation on your skin, and make sure to use good sun protection at all times. Some of this darkening may fade after delivery, but these areas are likely to remain darker than they were before pregnancy.
For many women, extra pigment in the skin causes a dark vertical line of up to 1cm wide to appear down the middle of your stomach, from your navel to your pubic bone. It usually appears around the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy. Rest assured that this line will fade within a few weeks of delivery.
Nearly 50 per cent of women will experience some signs of chloasma or “pregnancy mask”, a brownish darkening of the facial skin. These spots, more common in women with dark hair and pale skin, are a result of increased pigmentation. Exposure to sunlight will darken the patches, making them more obvious, so protect your skin with a high factor sunscreen. They will begin to fade within a few months after birth.
Varicose veins occur in 40 per cent of pregnant women because of blood vessel changes and the pressure of the baby on the pelvic veins that drain the legs. They appear as bulky blue veins that can often be uncomfortable and sometimes painful. If there is a history of varicose veins in your family, you will be more prone to them during your pregnancy.
To help prevent or decrease the effects of varicose veins, you should avoid standing or sitting for long periods, walk as much as possible, wear support stockings, avoid gaining too much weight, and try to lie with your legs higher than your head for at least half an hour each day.
Did you know that there is a physical reason behind what seems like an old wives’ tale? Your body’s blood flow increases by 50 per cent during pregnancy, circulating more blood around your body, including the tiny vessels just beneath the surface of your skin. In addition, your skin also retains more moisture during pregnancy, plumping up your skin and making it appear smoother. The result of all these factors working together results in your healthy ‘glow’.
Have you found your pregnancy glow? Share your tips with other moms in the comments section below.