When characters in movies and TV shows become pregnant, their skin starts glowing, and hair becomes thicker. However, a lot of mom to-be’s and new mothers have found out the hard way that this might not be true in real life. Motherhood brings forth a flood of new hormones, even ones we never really knew existed in our bodies. These hormones have different effects on different women. For some, it means smooth glowing skin that feels soft like freshly churned butter, and for others, it means new acne spots every day and an exuberant makeup budget to cover up the spots.
Before you can bring home your little bundle of joy, you need to be ready for the plethora of changes that might be occurring in your body and skin right now. With each manifestation of change, your skin might be trying to tell you something. It is up to you to recognize these changes and address the causes.
Acne is a common problem among the youth. Pimples or acne problems reduce once an adolescent transition into womanhood. Apart from the daily anti-acne regimen that many adolescents follow, the main cause of this noticeable reduction after the age of 18 or 20 is due to the attainment of hormonal balance. However, everything can potentially change during pregnancy. Some women experience high progesterone levels during their first trimester. This causes excessive oil production in the forehead and nose regions. This provides perfect breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria. Even if you do not experience breakouts during your term, you can suffer a bad case of Acne vulgaris after delivery due to sudden fluctuations in hormone levels.
The main problem with acne is the skin irritation that comes with it and the risk of secondary infection following the breakout. Sometimes, secondary bacterial and fungal infections from the site of the open acne cause local edema, irritation, and pain. More annoyingly, these cases leave behind visible scarring even long after the pregnancy is over. A mom’s immune system is much stronger, and that is one more reason for flared immune reactions in the region of skin breaks.
How to beat your acne?
Your skin needs a cleaning, toning and moisturizing regimen to prevent such unpredictable and unwarranted breakouts. Pimples can occur due to clogged pores and bad hygiene. You need clinically approved cleansers (preferably water-based) to clean your skin at least twice every day. Your toner should not contain alcohol since the alcohol in your toner will dry your skin up excessively and your sebum glands will try to make up for the dryness by producing excessive oil. Choose a soft toner that does not make your skin too dry and taut. Oil-based skin hydration products and skin serums are the best for oily skins. No matter which brand you go for, be sure to pick a product that does not elicit allergic reactions on your delicate skin.
Dark circles, puffy eyes, and crow feet
These were never really a problem during the days and nights of crazy parties. Waking up with raccoon eyes and crow’s feet were the signatures of a great Friday night out. However, as the first trimester turns into the second, the circles around the eyes start becoming more visible. For new moms, the situation is almost always worse. New moms get to sleep only when the baby is asleep, rest of the times they are either cooing the baby, making sure everyone around the house is quiet or feeding the baby. New mothers hardly get enough sleep, rest or time to take care of themselves. This makes the problems of dark circles, puffy eyes and crow’s feet much worse with every passing day. They no longer remain the reminder of fun night-outs or a night of OTT drinking. They simply scream about all the sleepless nights and missed skincare routines.
Saying goodbye to dark circles and fine lines
Did you know? Without enough care and treatment, these dark circles and fine lines under your eyes could become your lifelong partners. That sounds quite scary, but you don’t have to worry. You have enough time to tend to them and make sure they go away before your bundle of joy can say, “mama.” Ideally, you should start preparing to fight the fatigue since the beginning of your first trimester. Stock up on micro-dermabrasion creams, skin smoothening serums, dark circle removal agents, skin tightening formulae and neck firming agent before you run out of time. Once the baby is born, you will hardly get the time to run to the market or the drugstore to pick up anything other than diapers. Being a mom is a full-time job, and that leaves very little time for shopping, skin care, and self-love. Hormone levels have a lot to do with the puffy eyes, and they start subsiding once you start getting some proper rest. You can try cooling gels, cucumber packs and ice pads to reduce the puffiness. Avoid OTC eye drops during your pregnancy for treating puffiness as they can potentially cause allergic symptoms or unpleasant reactions.
Do you remember the post by an Asian mother that chronicled her tryst with stretch marks after five of her kids were born? The post went viral for all the right reasons. It portrayed the experience of motherhood, the challenges, and the sacrifices. However, not everyone has the same outlook on life and motherhood, so if you do not want to battle with stretch marks that is completely understandable and normal too. People believe that stretch marks start once the skin contracts suddenly after delivery, but the genesis of these stubborn marks begin with the first stretching of the belly. These are the most common skin problems among women post-delivery, but they are also the most stubborn.
How to prevent pregnancy stretch marks?
Once you are at the end of your third trimester, you need to start paying attention towards hydrating your skin around the areas of maximum stretch. Post-pregnancy you will commonly find stretch marks on your breasts, thigh, abdomen, buttocks, and calves. Therefore, before your second-trimester starts, you need to start keeping these stretch mark prone regions well-hydrated. Supplying the skin cells with enough moisture can help them remain flexible. Using almond oil, olive oil or even cocoa butter on the skin at least twice a day can help prevent the formation of stretch marks during pregnancy. Often, eating essential fatty acid rich food helps in preserving the cellular integrity by boosting the fatty acid content between the skin cells. These can prevent the tears that lead to permanent “scar” like stretch marks to evolve almost all across the body. Even with the advancement of medical and dermatological techniques, there is a sheer absence of ways to get rid of stretch marks instantly. Using pharmacological creams with high retinol or retinoic acid content boosts the cellular turnover, and it can assist with the reduction of stretch marks over time.
Patchy skin and pigmentation
Some women suffer from hyperpigmentation problems during their pregnancy. Melasma or hyperpigmentation usually occurs due to the sudden increase of progesterone and estrogen in the body. Women with the long-standing polycystic ovarian disease often face worse skin pigmentation problems that are not restricted to their face. Moms-to-be often notices the darkening of the skin around their abdomen and their breasts. This is a completely normal process, and it is more prominent in women with darker skin tones. This is a very transient change, and the skin color goes back to normal after delivery.
How to restrict melasma during pregnancy?
Staying in the sun for long hours will cause your skin to tan more than usual during pregnancy. Think about investing in a good and pharmaceutically approved sunscreen (above SPF 30) during the time of pregnancy. Stay hydrated and if you are to listen to the older generation, always drink enough water for two! Drinking the right amount of water will help you flush the extra toxins in your system, and that will help your skin glow from within. The skin darkening is a very common problem among almost all pregnant women; there is nothing to worry about. However, the sudden change in complexion can be a bit annoying since you will have to switch to new concealer, foundation and baked powder shades. Preferably choose a shade darker and pick a brand that is hypo-allergenic and safe for the mom-to-be.
Pregnancy is the time to relax, take care of your body and your mind. You need to understand the new needs of your body and respond accordingly. A lot of changes are coming your way. Post-delivery, you will get little time to take care of yourself and your skin. Therefore, now is the time to find the best products, skin rejuvenation systems, skin firming agents and skin relaxing products that can help your skin face the change. Motherhood might be a glorious time, but it isn’t easy. A sudden shift in priorities can make it very difficult to accommodate an elaborate skin care routine. Find simple solutions and care regimes that work for you. Sneak in 5 minutes between morning bathroom breaks and feeding to pamper your skin with the cleansing, toning, and hydration it deserves.