Were you looking forward to that pregnancy “glow” but not seeing it? You’re not alone. While a handful of women might look “radiant”, the majority of expectant moms will encounter some major skin problems when pregnant. From acne to stretch marks to vein changes to discolored skin, there are a number of pregnancy symptoms that afflict the skin. Why? Hormone fluctuations are mostly to blame, in addition to increased blood flow to the skin, and stretched skin and blood vessels. Here’s what else to expect from your skin when you’re expecting.
Why do you get acne during pregnancy?
Thought you left acne behind in high school? Think again. According to Healthline, you’ll notice more flare-ups during your first and second trimesters, thanks to an increase in hormones called androgens that can cause the glands in your skin to grow and produce more oil. While pregnancy pimples will affect the majority of expectant moms, women who suffer from hormonal acne during their menstrual cycle are believed to be more susceptible to pregnancy acne (sorry). Fortunately, your pimples will clear up once you give birth. In the meantime, keep your skin hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and keep it clean by regularly washing your face and skipping oil-based cosmetics. And as much as you might love Dr. Pimple Popper, don’t pick your skin.
What is melasma and linea nigra?
Called “the mask of pregnancy” melasma is a common skin problem that affects most pregnant women. In fact, it’s reported that 50 to 70 percent of expectant moms will have the brownish-grey patches that primarily form around the forehead, cheeks, and chin as a result of increased pigmentation. Since your hormones are to blame for your new “lewk” it’s difficult to prevent it from occurring altogether, but wearing sunscreen and a baseball cap, and generally staying out of the sun as much as possible, will help reduce your risk.
However, melasma doesn’t just stop at the face. In fact, during pregnancy, the skin all over your body becomes hyperpigmented. You might even notice darkening and discoloring of the skin around your nipples, arms, and abdomen. Speaking of your abdomen, many pregnant mothers will have a dark vertical line between their belly button and pubic area. Known as the pregnancy line, or as it’s officially called, linea nigra, this half-inch wide line usually grows darker as your pregnancy develops, according to the American Pregnancy Association (APA). Although it can show up earlier, linea nigra typically becomes evident during your second trimester. While you can’t do much to prevent linea nigra from appearing, you can rest easy knowing that it’ll disappear once your baby is born.
What to do about stretch marks during pregnancy?
Stretch marks are a common concern for pregnant women. Unfortunately you can’t really help it since your skin is stretching to accommodate your growing baby. The good news is that stretch marks don’t pose any health risks to you or your little pea. However, the APA does report that some might experience uncomfortable itching with their stretch marks. While stretch marks tend to be more visible during the end of your pregnancy — as your tummy begins to pop — some women will notice stretch marks in the first trimester. You might not be able to fully treat stretch marks once they’re visible but you can help prevent them by drinking two liters of water per day, exercising regularly (with your doctor’s permission, of course) and eating nutritious foods that are rich in collagen-forming vitamins, like leafy greens, citrus fruits, berries, and lean protein like chicken.
How to treat varicose and spider veins?
Pregnant women are prone to experience changes in their veins, including both the spider and varicose kind. Spider veins are tiny and red, often showing up on your face, neck, and arms, as a result of — you guessed it — hormones and the higher amounts of blood in your body. Want to help reduce them? The APA recommends upping your vitamin C intake and refraining from crossing your legs when seated. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), those swollen and bluish-veins on your legs are called varicose veins and are caused by the weight and pressure of your uterus that’s decreasing blood flow from your lower body. Varicose veins can also appear on your vulva and in your vagina and rectum. Luckily, varicose veins will disappear after delivery in most cases. You can help prevent them by keeping active, propping your legs up as much as possible when sitting, and eating foods high in fiber.
Hair Growth (and Loss)
So you want to know why you’ve got hair on your chinny, chin, chin. Your increase of hormones also means that you could experience J.Lo-type hair throughout your pregnancy. Most women experience thicker and fuller hair at the beginning of their pregnancy, according to WebMD. This is because your new batch of hormones causes your hair to stay in the growing phase, which explains why your mane is so healthy and shiny and diva-like. On the flip side, because the rise of hormones during pregnancy keeps your hair so healthy, a number of women experience hair loss after pregnancy as your hormones return to their normal levels. But don’t freak out! Your hair will return to its normal growth cycle about three to four months postpartum. In order to help your hair out, the APA recommends eating a nutritious diet filled with fruits and veggies, taking supplements like biotin and vitamin B complex, and refraining from tight hairstyles.
What you can do about it.
When in doubt, it’s always best to check with your personal physician or OB rather than try self-treatment. There are some natural and over-the-counter remedies that could be harmful for you or your baby, so play it safe. And don’t worry — you look beautiful.
Written by Brianne Hogan.