We've all heard of "pregnancy glow." If you're one of the extremely lucky few, your skin might develop this beautiful (and elusive) brightness and luster you hear so much about. If you're not so fortunate, you're also not alone. Most pregnant women experience at least one of these less glamorous side effects: acne, spider veins, stretch marks, melasma, and rashes, to name a few of the oh-so-fun possibilities. However, there are two things that should not happen to your skin during pregnancy, and experiencing either merit a trip to your OB-GYN, and ASAP.
Expectant mothers are tough cookies. Yes, pregnancy is beautiful, but it comes with a lot of not-so-beautiful symptoms. We're familiar with the usual suspects, like morning sickness, extreme fatigue, and insomnia. However, less women talk about the constipation, the body aches, the gas, the hemorrhoids, and the constant need to pee. Long story short: expectant mothers are absolute champs.
It's necessary to be a tough cookie to survive 40 weeks of this, but it's also important to recognize which symptoms are annoyances and which ones are signs of something more serious. If you find yourself experiencing the two skin symptoms below, call your doctor and let them know immediately. Grinning and bearing it is the typical M.O. for pregnancy, but these are two symptoms you shouldn't be putting up with.
A little bit of swelling during pregnancy is common and sometimes inevitable. While it's one of the most disliked symptoms of pregnancy, it does serve a purpose. According to the American Pregnancy Association, "This extra retention of fluid is needed to soften the body, which enables it to expand as the baby develops. Extra fluid also helps prepare the pelvic joints and tissues to open for delivery." You might not like feeling "puffy," but your body knows what it's doing. Keep in mind that certain things can exacerbate swelling, like heat, caffeine, sodium, excess activity, and so on.
But swelling that comes on quickly or seems more extreme than normal is not something to ignore. If you notice that your face and hands have gotten swollen rapidly, you may be experiencing preeclampsia. According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, this condition "is a rapidly progressive condition characterized by high blood pressure and usually the presence of protein in the urine." Devastatingly, preeclampsia and related conditions are responsible for the deaths of over 70,000 moms and 500,000 babies annually.
As your belly and breasts grow during pregnancy, your skin stretches. This can naturally cause a bit of itching. Luckily, some heavy-duty lotion should help relieve this pesky symptom pretty easily. Lotion up when you get out of the shower, and any other time your skin feels particularly dry or irritated.
But what if lotion isn't helping your itchiness? Annoying, persistent itching can be a symptom of a serious condition called cholestasis. According to the Mayo Clinic, cholestasis "is a liver condition that occurs in late pregnancy. The condition triggers intense itching, but without a rash. Itching usually occurs on the hands and feet but can also affect other parts of the body." It's understandably annoying for mom, but it can be life-threatening for baby. If you can't get relief from itchiness, don't wait to call your doctor.
Pregnancy is not always a walk in the park, and most mamas-to-be have braced themselves for all of the potential side effects. While there are a fair amount of bothersome symptoms that you simply need to endure, it's crucial to know which ones are harmless and which ones are harmful. Know the signs, trust your gut, and speak up for yourself and your little one if something seems off.