During pregnancy, with so many changes taking place inside your body, it's easy to forget that there's a lot happening on the outside of it too. Obviously your belly and boobs are doing some...expanding, but you might not know about the many ways a lot of people's skin changes during pregnancy. And frankly, you need to know, because there is a hell of a lot that could happen to your body's most expansive organ.
Skin, in particular, is more susceptible to changes and sensitivities while pregnant. All those hormones running rampant cause your skin to sometimes act a bit, well, odd. Most of the changes that take place during your pregnancy are temporary. That's welcome news in some instances, but not all of the changes are that unbearable, and you might even be a little sad to see some of them go. For example, that awesome "glow" and those perfectly plump lips are actually sort of fun, and your flushed cheeks could potentially shorten your makeup routine. But there are also some changes that you'll be thankful are temporary. Don't be surprised if any of the following happen during your nine (OK, ten) months of pregnancy. Yes, they're a little weird, but they're also usually nothing to be worried about at all.
Ah stretch marks, the maternal badge of honor that so many of us try to avoid. Unfortunately, no matter how much cocoa butter you slather on, stretch marks aren't entirely preventable. In most cases they're hereditary, so if your mom had them, there's a good chance that you will too.
That said, they can be a little itchy sometimes, so by all means moisturize to your heart's content. This will help soothe the discomfort and it can also aid in decreasing the severity of them, even if it can't stop them from occurring altogether.
If you're like me, there wasn't enough lotion in the world to prevent stretch marks from happening. Admittedly, I was self-conscious about them at first, but they've mostly faded since their first appearance. They're tiger stripes that I earned, and I'm no longer embarrassed by them in the slightest.
(No, Rihanna isn't pregnant — that we know of! *darting rumor-starting eyes* — but I couldn't think of anyone who embodies glowing more than she does, so here we are.)
"The Glow" isn't an urban legend. It's real and it's awesome. Because of increased blood flow and expanded capillaries, at some point in your pregnancy, your skin will effortlessly just kinda start to beam. People will likely notice that something is just different about you, and your skin will probably never experience so many compliments again (unless your just naturally beaming, which there's a good chance you are).
In addition to added blood circulation, pregnancy hormones cause your skin to naturally retain more moisture, thus giving you your radiance. This is one of those side effects that we wish would stick around, but it's likely that it will eventually fade as your hormones level out.
The Mask Of Pregnancy
Some women experience what's known as the mask of pregnancy. This is when areas of your skin (usually around the neck, forehead, and face) temporarily darken. Pregnancy hormones cause your body to produce extra melanin, which is what causes your skin to darken when you tan. Not everyone experiences this darkening, but it's a fairly common condition. Sometimes it's hardly noticeable, but for some these patches are a source of anxiety. Typically, the dark patches subside months after delivery. In the mean time, tinted moisturizer is a great cover-up if you'd prefer to hide your spots.
What's that weird, dark line running down the center of your stomach? It's called linea nigra, and it's a vertical line that typically appears around your second trimester when your belly starts to pop. For me, this was a sign that my pregnancy was getting real (I mean, it was real the whole time, but seeing my stomach expand and the appearance of this line made it really real).
Again, this is a pigmentation change caused by hormones, but it's appearance will fade in the months following delivery.
All of the extra hormones can increase the oil production in your skin. Sometimes this results in an outbreak of acne, especially if you're already susceptible to it. For some people already suffering from acne, they might notice it subsides during certain times of their pregnancy, and for people that don't usually get breakouts the opposite is true.
Treat it as you normally would but speak with a doctor before using certain treatments, as some can be harmful to your baby.
Dark Spots On Your Ribs And Back
This is a strange one, and not many people experience it. I guess I'm one of the lucky ones. I noticed a dark spot on my ribs towards the end of my first pregnancy. When I asked my doctor about it he wasn't concerned, and told me to simply use a steroid cream if it began to itch.
It never did itch but it did spread to both sides of my ribs and back. It's not contagious or painful, but it is incredibly annoying. It was diagnosed as pityriasis rosea. Its cause is unknown, though some dermatologists have linked hormones and inflammatory reactions to its presence. Typically, it goes away a few months after pregnancy, but for me it's riddance has been annoyingly long.
Anti-histamines and steroid creams have helped. It doesn't cause any harm to you or your baby, and will eventually go away on its own.
When tiny capillaries break they cause spider veins. Increased blood flow and higher hormone levels are the root of their appearance, but spider veins are harmless. Annoying, but harmless.
If you're already prone to them you're more likely to have them during your pregnancy, but they also fade after giving birth.
Worsening Pre-Existing Skin Conditions
If you have a skin condition such as rosacea or eczema, it's likely that their appearance could worsen during pregnancy. On the other hand, skin conditions relating to your immune system could improve the appearance of things like psoriasis.
Your skin may also be more sensitive due to increased blood flow. When your skin stretches it becomes more delicate, so sensitivity will likely increase the further you get into your pregnancy.
These changes will also subside after delivery.
As your skin stretches — especially if you're developing stretch marks — it can cause you to incessantly itch. You're also more sensitive to certain chemicals found in many detergents, so sometimes mild rashes or hives will develop. Most itching is fairly normal and nothing to be concerned about.
However, if severe itching persists or develops on the palms of your hands or the soles of your feet, Web MD recommends that you see your doctor, as this could be a condition called obstetric cholestasis, a condition that could affect your liver.
Of course, if you have any concerns about the changes you see in your skin, it's best to consult a doctor, not an online article written by someone who (despite formidable Googling powers and one pregnancy under her belt) is decidedly not a physician. Your body is going through a lot of changes, and it's always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the health of you and your baby.
Also, you look radiant!
Images: Yanko Peyankov/Unsplash; Giphy(9)