When you find out you’re expecting a little bundle of joy, there are lots of changes you expect. This is evident by the whole book and website dedicated to this called “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” You expect your stomach to begin to round. Morning sickness is something many women talk about too. And let’s not forget the swollen feet and ankles many women experience.
Many pregnant mothers don’t know that they could develop common skin conditions during the gestation though. Somehow the acne, stretch marks, and melasma seem to miss the Instagram highlight reels. It’s all about that “glow” on social media it seems. If you’re experiencing a skin condition while expecting, know that you’re not alone. Keep reading for tips for prevention and treatments for these ailments while pregnant.
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1. Dark Patches
You might be watching other friends or groups you follow on social media begin to get that healthy look to their skin. They have this suppleness to their skin they’ve never had. Their hair is thick and wavy and their nails have never been longer or stronger (thanks prenatal vitamins). But instead of glowing skin you might have developed dark spots, potentially on your face. This is known as melasma, and it’s caused by hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy.
Please know this is common and others develop this as well. However, increased sun exposure can make it worse. Try to avoid too much sun and wear sunscreen. The good news is, it often dissipates a few months after you give birth. There are also melasma medication options you can try to help lighten your dark patches.
You may be thinking, “I am woman, hear me roar!” Afterall, you’re growing a tiny miracle inside of you. And you might even be nesting and getting ready to bring your babe home. How annoying is it to be a powerful, ADULT woman, and have acne popping up like a teenage girl? This is part of the magical wonder that is the female body.
The hormones that help you sustain life can also give you pimples. Did you have bad acne as a teenager or get monthly blemishes with your period? Then you have a higher chance of acne in pregnancy too. The good news is this mostly impacts women during the first trimester. If you’re breaking out, there are treatments you can try that are safe for pregnant women. You may just want to talk to your medical provider about what treatments are best for you at this time.
3. Stretch Marks
Now stretch marks might be something you expect, but you never know how or where these will pop up. The side or bottom of your belly or even breasts as they grow can be impacted. You might even get them on your hips and buttocks if they change quickly too. Why is this? Your skin simply stretches and can’t quite keep up with the rapid changes.
Staying hydrated and moisturized are a few ways to lessen the appearance and prevalence of stretch marks. There are some medicated ointments and creams you can use to help as well. In time, some of the stretch marks will fade. It is likely your skin and, honestly, your body in general will not look the same after birth. While there’s a lot of “get my body back” talk out there, you have a new title as Mom — embrace your new body too.
Your body is truly a wonderland when you’re pregnant. You can find odd things happening alongside the happy growth of your baby. Did you know there are several types of rashes that may pop up during pregnancy? Depending on the time of year and where you live, you can get heat rashes. Some women even experience eczema and hives.
There are also less common and more severe afflictions that can manifest. These often indicate something more serious is underlying. Like pemphigoid gestationis are blisters on your stomach caused by an autoimmune disorder. Or obstetric cholestasis, which causes severe itchiness due to liver disease from your hormone changes. Talk to your doctor if you have these going on; there are things they can do to give you relief and keep you and baby healthy.
5. Varicose Veins
You might be wondering what varicose veins are. They occur when the veins get bigger and pop up on the skin. They often are superficial veins (close to the surface) and you can see their color in contrast to your skin. These veins are most common on your legs. While pregnant, you are more likely to develop these.
Why is that? Well during pregnancy you experience weight gain and shifts in your hormones. Progesterone levels are higher while pregnant and this relaxes the veins. You also have a larger supply of blood coursing through your veins while supporting new life. If your mom has varicose veins, you likely will get them too.
Once you have varicose veins, it’s challenging to get them to go away. You can work on some prevention methods while pregnant and after birth. This could include elevating your feet and legs throughout the day. Change up your position so you’re not sitting or standing in one way for long periods of time. Get a little exercise daily to keep the blood flowing too.
Practicing self care when you’re expecting is one way to help with the skin conditions mentioned. You might not be expecting them but, if they pop up, take care of yourself. You don’t have to suffer in silence. If you’re throwing up constantly with morning sickness, say something. If you experience dark spots, look into a treatment option.
Understanding what may develop during pregnancy and being a strong patient advocate is key. You’re becoming a mother, and to take care of that sweet baby you also have to take care of you. Even if you’ve never had a friend get a skin condition, you’re not alone and you deserve comfort. Follow the tips above and try to enjoy this special time in your life as much as you can. It may not feel like it right now, but it goes by faster than you think.