CARE NEEDED Pregnancy can take its toll on your skin, both on your body and your face.
As with everything pregnancy related, changes are the name of the game when it comes to your skin. Some people can experience positive changes, but for others, the opposite can be true. They might get oilier skin and breakouts or experience dry skin for the first time. Most expectant mothers experience a mix of good and bad – a month of beautiful glowing skin, followed by a month of breakouts, for example. The reason, quite simply, is hormones. From conception onwards, the surge in hormones brings with it all sorts of new challenges. The body also must cope with a host of other adjustments, such as increased circulation, immunity changes and the physical changes of a growing baby.
Stretch marks Stretch marks are by far the most common skin issue during and after pregnancy. They are caused by the skin stretching as your bump grows. They can occur anytime the skin is stretched – meaning they can happen if you gain weight outside of pregnancy. It’s not known why some women get stretch marks while others don’t, but it’s thought that genetics can play a part. If your mom had them, the likelihood is that you will get them too. Prevention is better than treatment when it comes to stretch marks, so a routine of moisturising the skin daily will help. Look for ingredients like Vitamin E, shea butter, cocoa butter and nut oils. Using a cream or oil daily might not completely prevent stretch marks, but if you do get them, they may help minimise them.
Break outs A by-product of the higher level of pregnancy hormones is increased sebum, a naturally occurring oil that moisturises and protects the skin. During pregnancy, the hormones enlarge the skin glands that produce oils, which in turn boosts sebum production. This is not a negative in itself, but if the sebum gets trapped in your pores by dead skin cells, bacteria can grow and thrive, causing breakouts. The answer is to keep your skin clean by using a gentle, soap-free wash daily. Avoid the temptation to over-exfoliate, as this can send a signal to the skin to produce more oil. Use an oil-free moisturiser and remember to eat a healthy diet and to drink plenty of water.
Dry skin Many women experience dry skin during pregnancy. This is because the fluid requirements of the mother and the growing baby increase, so it’s important to up your water intake. Again, keep your skin clean and use a good moisturiser daily. A good diet that includes plenty of healthy oils will also help. A pregnancy fish-oil supplement can also be beneficial, but make sure it’s suitable for pregnancy, as many aren’t.
Temporary As with everything related to pregnancy, always consult your healthcare provider if your symptoms persist or appear very severe. If they are not severe but you need some help and advice on dealing with them, talk to a skin therapist. The most important thing to remember about these skin problems is that they are for the most part only temporary, and although some of these can be inconvenient, there is light at the end of the nine-month tunnel.