Pregnancy sets the stage for some surprising changes, not just in your belly, but also in – or on – other parts of your body. Thanks to cataclysmic shifts in hormones, you may find yourself enriched by a luscious crown of hair, roseate cheeks and glorious, glowing skin. At the same time, you may develop pregnancy acne, dark spots and spider veins. Nonetheless, these little tokens are healthy signs of a blossoming baby in your belly – although they might not all be embraced in the same way. The truth is, pregnancy symptoms extend far beyond the usual all-day fatigue and tender breasts that we’re used to seeing in movies and magazines. If you’ve got a bun in the oven and aren’t sure what to expect, here’s a round-up of skin and hair changes you should be prepared for.
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Amen to that. Pregnancy can bestow your head with a shinier, thicker crop than before, due to pregnancy hormones that reduce hair loss. However, don’t get attached to your magnificent mane too quickly, because you can expect to lose much of it when you deliver your baby and your hormones settle back to normal. It is important to take good care of your hair during postpartum, because it may have become weaker after pregnancy.
Ask your doctor for dietary supplements containing vitamin C and amino acids to boost the health, shine and strength of your hair.
If you develop dark, patchy blemishes on your face – especially the cheeks, upper lip, chin and forehead – it’s likely you have melasma, a skin condition spurred on by elevated oestrogen levels. Melasma affects 3 in 4 pregnant women. While there isn’t a remedy for the condition, you should limit your exposure to the sun to protect your skin from UV penetration. Acne is another frequent visitor during pregnancy, brought on by excess oil production. The key to combating acne is setting up a good skincare regime.
Use non-comedogenic, water-based products on your skin. Also, remember to steer away from medications without prior approval from your doctor.
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The scalp isn’t the only place that experiences changes in hair growth. You may notice your body sprouting hair in unusual – and unwanted – places during pregnancy. If you see hair growth on your face, around your nipples, on your abdomen and on your bottom, take heart in knowing this is temporary and that it should recede within about six months of your delivery. That said, hair removal via shaving, waxing or electrolysis is completely safe during pregnancy.
Pregnancy can turn your belly into an artistic canvas. If you’ve ever had a pregnancy line, you know. A pregnancy line is a dark line that stems from the navel and develops vertically through to the pubic area, dividing the belly perfectly in half. It is usually caused by the same hormonal triggers as those for melasma. While it isn’t safe to use a skin lightening product while you’re still pregnant, you can use one after you’ve delivered to erase the pigmentation.
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More than half of all women develop stretch marks in their lifetime – some, pregnancy-related; others, not. During pregnancy, stretch marks most commonly appear on the tummy, thighs and breasts, due to the rapid expansion of skin. They can range in colour from red or brown to light purple. Varicose veins, or spider veins as they are otherwise known – thanks to their crawly appearance on the skin – are also a symptom of pregnancy. Spider veins are caused by swelling of the blood vessels, due to excess weight gain.
They usually manifest on the arms, legs and torso. The condition can exacerbate if you’re used to being on your feet for extended periods. And while there’s no cure, you can contain it by keeping your feet elevated.
From weight gain to facial changes, navigating the various physical layers of pregnancy can be a rollercoaster of emotions. If you feel overwhelmed, make sure to encircle yourself in positive influences. Lean on your partner, confide in supportive friends, and pick a maternity hospital that becomes your gate pass to peace of mind. Seek comfort in knowing that these changes are not for long. By embracing them now, you can gift yourself lifelong maternity memories.