Pregnancy can do a number on your looks. Aside from the whole “gaining massive amounts of weight thing,” your surging hormones can wreak havoc on your complexion, body, hair – even your gums. Just remember, however you’re feeling about these changes, know that they’re mostly temporary and yet it’s totally normal to stress them. We’ve rounded up some of the most, ahem, interesting physical changes that accompany the pregnancy journey and even some hacks to make them easier to deal with. For more deets or if something feels abnormal, always hit up your medical provider.
What’s That Black Line Below My Belly?
You know that feeling when you go to admire your glowing, gorgeous, bumpin’ body when suddenly, a dark line below your belly button appears out of nowhere? Say hello to your linea negra, aka your pregnancy line!
The funny thing is that you probably had that line before, but because it’s usually light in color, you never noticed! Once you hit the fifth month or so, the line turns a brownish shade + comes out to play. We don’t know why, but some believe it’s related to your changing hormones. The melanocyte-stimulating hormone in particular is thought to be the biggest contributor. It’s also the one responsible for your darkening nipps during pregnancy. There’s nothing you can do about the linea negra. It’s totes natural and will fade shortly after pregnancy, so enjoy it while it lasts!
Your boobs are going to go through all sorts of changes throughout pregnancy and beyond. We’re talking size, shape, color – it’s a journey. In the 2nd trimester specifically, they’ll probably get larger and heavier, and the veins surrounding your boobs will become more apparent beneath the skin. Your nipps and areolas might grow and darken, with some super fun small bumps making their way to the surface. Before you start freaking out, just know that they should return to their pre-pregnancy color and size, though we can’t speak for the rest of your boobs!
I’m Feeling errr Splotchy
Your skin’s going to do a lot of funky sh*t during pregnancy. Some good, some err…splotchy! If you’re experiencing sudden dark splotches all over your face, you’ve got the “mask of pregnancy,” or, according to a dermo, melasma. These spots will commonly show up on your forehead + cheeks and are the result of increased pigmentation. See, when you get pregnant, your body starts producing more hormones, which leads to more pigmentation.
Don’t stress, nearly half of all pregnant women experience some sort of mask of pregnancy. To help prevent it, wear a really strong sunscreen (that’s mama + baby-safe, natch’) whenever you plan on being outside, as well as a sun hat. Fortunately, after pregnancy, your skin won’t be nearly as sensitive to the sun, though you should still practice good sun prevention anyway.
Varicose veins are enlarged veins that you’ll often find in the legs, but can even reach up to your butt. They’re one of the more unfortunate side effects of pregnancy, right up there with hemorrhoids and constipation. The reason is that during pregnancy, your blood volume increases, while the rate at which blood flows from your legs to your pelvis decreases. This can add pressure on the veins, which in turn causes varicose veins. Hormones are also to blame, as increased progestin can open up the veins. They’re generally harmless but they’re pesky and can be uncomfortable. Usually they’ll go down within three months to a year after giving birth, but you can lessen your risk with movement, hydration, compression, elevation and taking it easy on the sodium.
Oh HEY MUSTACHE
While the hair on your head sheds less during pregnancy, you may experience an increased amount of body and facial hair. You can go ahead and blame the increase in the androgen hormone (aka dude hormones). To get at those pesky hairs, you can tweeze, wax or shave. Avoid chemicals like bleach or depilatories, as they can enter your bloodstream. Also table the permanent hair-removing techniques like laser or electrolysis for after babe as they might cause excess pigmentation. Not to worry, this extra hair should be gone three to six months after you deliver.
Holy Stretch Marks
We prefer the term “Warrior Marks” or “Mama Marks.” After all, if you have stretch marks from pregnancy, why not rock them with pride?! But we get it. Sometimes you’re just trying to maintain that youthful, supple pre-preggo bod. Is that so wrong?! Of course not. The bad news is that in large part, stretch marks are hereditary, so if your mama had them with you, odds are you’ll carry on that genetic code. But some defenses exist in tackling stretch marks along the way.
One of the best stretch mark strategies is making sure your skin maintains maximum elasticity. You can achieve this by eating Vitamin-rich foods that help form collagen. Vitamin C in particular helps protect tissue from damage, while Riboflavin and Niacin are known to promote healthy skin. Also, drink at least 2 liters of water a day to help strengthen and renew skin.
In tandem with eating well, our best-selling Belly Oil is a nutrient-rich quick-dry oil that helps relieve itching + reduces the appearance of stretch marks. Its baby-safe botanical blend is formulated to support skin as it stretches and provides deep hydration without leaving a greasy feel. It’s a one-two, power packed hydration from the inside out AND outside in.
Yikes I’m Big
We fully endorse giving into comfort food and cravings during pregnancy, but if you’ve already hit your targeted weight gain goal, you can still aim to keep your weight on track or even moderate it through a few steps. First, talk to your healthcare provider and come up with a plan that will help you feel your best. No deprivation, no starvation, just eating happy + clean. Some of our time-honored recs? Skip the diets, cut empty calories, and eat real food. Snack on fresh fruit instead of dried, opt for sweet potatoes over fries, grill some white meat chicken over a bucket of KFC. Also load up on nutrients, proteins and watch your portion control. Focus on smart fats like salmon, nuts + seeds while cutting out those high trans fats found in cookies, baked goods and frozen pizza. And lastly, with your doctor’s OK, get moving! Make exercise a regular part of your day, whether it’s taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking instead of driving or indulging your inner zen in a prenatal yoga class. Everything in moderation, mama.
My Gums are Literally Bleeding
Not trying to freak you out, but you could have pregnancy gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease that affects nearly half of all pregnant women. If your gums are swollen, red, tender and bleed when you floss or brush, you can go ahead and blame your hormones, which are responsible for making your gums more sensitive to bacteria.
Pregnancy gingivitis won’t harm you or your babe, especially if you practice good dental hygiene. Just remember to brush thoroughly (but gently) after every meal, floss daily and see your dentist regularly for preventative care. Let them know you’re pregnant before your check-up and discuss the best way to treat it together.
If you developed a small lump on your gums that bleeds when you brush, you could have a rare, HARMLESS lump called a pregnancy tumor or pyogenic granuloma. Pregnancy tumors can actually pop up anywhere on your body during pregnancy, but they show up most often in the mouth. It should disappear once you have your baby.
I’ve got F*ckin ACNE
While the assumption is that you’re supposed to be this glowing goddess throughout your pregnancy, the reality is that pregnancy might make you more prone to serious breakouts (like 7th grade style). Two reasons this might be happening? One is that your hormones are straight up SURGING at around week 6 of pregnancy. In this case, progesterone might be responsible for your glands producing excess secretions of sebum (aka zit-causing oil) that clogs your pores and causes bacteria to build. Another reason is that your body is retaining more fluids, which contains toxins that can lead to zits. No fun!
The jury is still out on which prescription medications are safe during pregnancy (some OB’s are cool with a tiny amount of salicylic acid, some will recommend benzoyl peroxide or azelaic acid), but there are plenty of all natural remedies you can try, like tea tree oil and fruit acids. Remember to watch your diet, avoid greasy foods and load up on a vitamin-A rich regimen of fish, eggs and carrots. If your prenatal acne is severe, talk to your dermatologist to come up with a regimen that’s right for you.