I’m going to tell you all of the ugly, nasty, gross, and most importantly – utterly normal and natural stuff that you may experience due to pregnancy.
Whether you are pregnant, want to become pregnant, or think you may some day be pregnant – read this. You don’t want to be caught off-guard during one of the most vulnerable times of your life.
Rumor is, pregnant women glow. It’s true for some. As blood volume doubles, many pregnant women develop a rosy flush. Their skin may appear to be more luminous and lips might even look fuller.
Here’s the downer – the changing hormones that clear up some women’s skin during pregnancy may actually cause other women to develop acne. To add insult to injury, it is not safe to treat your acne with most prescription medications during your pregnancy. You should check with your doctor before using over-the-counter meds too. Everyday ingredients like salicylic acid may not be safe for your baby.
Fluctuating hormones – estrogen and progesterone in particular – sometimes cause a pigmentation condition called chloasma. Often referred to as the mask of pregnancy, women may develop dark patches on their skin. These patches are most commonly found on the face, forehead, upper cheeks and nose.
Another pregnancy side effect is the linea nigra. What’s that? Well, it’s a dark line that runs from the belly button down to the pubic bone. You might see it develop some time in the second trimester. Luckily, it starts to clear up a few months after delivery.
Dark areas get darker. Especially if you are a woman of color, slightly shaded areas like armpits and the groin will get darker. Luckily, these areas will go back to normal a few months after you deliver.
You may be surprised to learn that there are a number of skin disorders that may creep up on you while you’re pregnant. Your immune system is more susceptible to invaders. Your pH and chemistry is in limbo as well.
During my pregnancy, I began noticing small dark patches on my chest. A few weeks later, the patches had taken over my entire chest. My dermatologist told me it was something called Tinea Versicolor – a pesky fungal infection that some women get during pregnancy.
Tinea Versicolor is just one disorder that may pop up during pregnancy. There are lots and lots more ladies.
Stretch marks. Your skin can only take so much – after a certain point, the elastic that holds your skin’s grid together gives way, and when it does, you get stretch marks. Some are thick, some are thin, some are red and others are brown. Often, stretch marks fade into a silvery white. It’s better than dark brown right?
They might show up on your sides, down the front of your belly, on your breasts (thanks engorgement), or any other part of your body that expanded rapidly.
Will you get them? Can you prevent them? I don’t know. Chances are, if your mom and sister have them, so will you. If you want to put up a fight anyway, lube up and keep your skin flexible. Try not to put on more than 2 lbs a week. Finally, pray!
Those crazy hormones are at it again, wreaking havoc. Sideburns, upper lip, chin, down your belly and anywhere else you can imagine, you might sprout hair. Take a deep breath. You look like Chubaka right now, but it will get better after the baby arrives.
Your breasts will get fuller throughout the pregnancy and you will give birth (safely and healthfully we hope), then – KABOOM! Your breasts will inflate to within an inch of their lives. Engorged with milk, your breasts will be huge, hard and painful.
After you’ve figured out how to work them, and you’ve nourished your beautiful creation with them – they deflate. Put simply – wiggly, giggly, soft and squishy.
Your tummy after birth? Wiggly, giggly, soft and squishy. I hear post-partem tummy belts help.
You have a person on your bladder. That same person is pushing up against your lungs. Sometimes, that little person decides to lie on your colon. Having said that, the gas you used to be able to hold until a more “opportune” time may be expelled at very inopportune times. You will burp and pass gas. You’re pregnant – everyone else just will have to deal with it.
You will need to pee all the time – all day – and night. Even before the baby is big enough to press on your bladder, the fluid in your body has doubled, and to deal with it, your body needs to pee more.
You might be constipated. On top of that – you might get hemorrhoids. Eat lots of fiber and try to stay regular.
You will cry more – about everything – and sometimes, about nothing. Those darn hormones! You may act like a crazy woman at times. Apologize after you’re done and beg the people you love to have patience until you are done being nutty. (Your mind won’t go back to normal until a few months after you’ve given birth. Play it to your advantage!)
Think of your pregnant body as a rental property. There is a chance your little tenant will trash the place before moving out. It might take some time to make repairs too.
Try to have a good sense of humor about it and go easy on yourself. You’re a person, making another person. That’s some serious stuff.
Dealing with your new mommy body image can be hard, but try to be proud of what your body was able to accomplish, not just what it looks like. Think about it, our bodies were made to do great things, to work, to create life.
The way yours looks is not nearly as impressive or important as what it does.