As a specialist in Pregnancy reflexology & massage I have seen some of the very different skin problems that women experience during pregnancy. Most women will experience radiant, blooming complexions, this is due to an increase in blood flow during pregnancy and more blood getting into the tiny blood vessels in the surface of the skin. Also increased Oestrogen levels, our reproductive hormone will contribute to a smooth and supple skin.
However, many women experience very unpredictable skin problems as well! All triggered by those pregnancy hormones, Oestrogen, Progesterone and HCG that are all circulating inside you. The first trimester will be particularly draining, to your energy levels and your skin, as the growing foetus will be taking everything it needs nutritionally, and leaving little left for you – let alone your skin.
You will have plenty of other things to think about instead of your skincare regime, so take the time to enjoy your pregnancy and relish the attention – it will all be over before you know it! Here’s some simple TLC for your skin……
- A simple but thorough skincare regime – a few good products will see you through.
- Cleanser and gentle exfoliator – you may need to change your usual products as skin can become drier or oilier (spend at least 1 minute cleansing your skin).
- A refreshing skin spritz – this can hydrate and cool skin during the day – many pregnant women complain of getting too hot!
- A moisturiser with an effective sunscreen is vital – this is so important to prevent pregnancy pigmentation from becoming permanent – be extra careful with a big floppy hat if it’s very sunny.
- A good spot treatment to zapp those hormonal blemishes, unfortunately you wont be able to use some of the effective treatments with Salicylic Acid, Essential Oils and Vitamin A, but try a dab of witch hazel or Sudocrem. Invest in a good non-comedogenic foundation and concealer for cover ups.
Pregnancy & Acne
Skin flare ups are common for some women in the first trimester as hormones have a profound effect on acne. During pregnancy “Progesterone” (a female hormone) levels are much higher – this can result in distressing acne flare-ups. This may clear up in the second or third trimester, and with most people will disappear after giving birth.
Melasma – also known as the mask of pregnancy.
Hormonal imbalance, a cause of pigmentation mostly affecting women, can occur during any time that the body’s natural hormonal balance is disturbed. These triggers can include hormonal changes, such as those that happen during the menstrual cycle, birth control pills, prolonged stress, menopause and most commonly pregnancy. Unlike pigmentation related to trauma or sun damage, hormonal induced hyper-pigmentation generally disappears when hormone balance is restored, and it can be treated during the interim period with topical skin brighteners. If you are pregnant always wear a SPF on your face, this will prevent the Melasma from getting darker and prevent damage. Try mineral sunblocks as they are less irritating if your skin is sensitised with pregnancy.
Extra Care For Your Body
One of the main concerns for most pregnant women is the appearance of stretch marks and appear mostly on the stomach, breasts and thighs when Collagen and Elastin is stretched to the point of no return – some women are more prone than others genetically, but there is much you can do to nourish and prevent the worst……
- Lavish your body with moisturiser after every shower or bath, use ultra rich nourishing creams and plant oils. (avoid Mineral Oil – this is not an effective hydrator). Rose-hip Oil mixed with a Vitamin E capsule will strengthen and protect skin, also Dermalogica Ultra Rich Body Cream is extremely nourishing and doesn’t contain any essential oils.
- Avoid Soap and Sodium Lauryl Sulphate – these will strip the skin’s barrier and leave your skin tight and flaky.
- Skin that is essentially stretching can feel dry and itchy, especially around the belly. Try bathing in Oatmeal (wrap the oatmeal in a pair of old tights and immerse in warm water), it is incredibly soothing and helps relieve the itch!
Ingredients To Avoid During Pregnancy
- Vitamin A (Retinoids) – avoid all forms as this may be very irritating to your skin.
- Salicylic Acid – This is a Beta Hydroxy Acid and part of the Aspirin family, best avoided during pregnancy.
- Benzoyl Peroxide – This is found in some acne products and can penetrate the skin so best avoided.
- Essential Oils – Avoid the stimulating and Detoxifying Essential Oils, if you want to use essential oils whilst pregnant seek advice from your doctor. Some are absolutely fine for pregnancy, but as a general rule I feel safer avoiding them all together.
Pregnancy hormones can make the walls and valves in your veins more relaxed, and with an increase in blood flow you may be plagued with Varicose Veins in your legs, groin or thighs. These can sometimes be extremely swollen, painful or itchy. They do normally run in families and worse if you stand up a lot, so if your mum has Varicose Veins, the chances are you will too. They are likely to become more visible in the last few weeks of pregnancy when you are at your heaviest. A good pair of support tights will help as well as massaging in a cooling leg and foot gel, try elevating your legs above chest height when you sit down and try to do some gentle exercise, also avoid sitting or standing for long periods. There are some effective solutions to remove Varicose Veins but wait until you have had all the children you want before seeking help.
Nutritional Needs During Pregnancy
Omega 3 supplements are now recommended by doctors and beneficial for baby’s health in the womb – and of course you! It’s easier to take a supplement than eating vast quantities of oily fish, also there are growing concerns over heavy metals in fish stocks, limit your Tuna & Swordfish due to high Mercury content.
Remember it is vital for your unborn baby that you have taken a Folic Acid supplement if your planning to get pregnant and during the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy – this is to prevent neural tube defects. Try Viridian’s Fertility For Women supplements or Advanced Nutrition Programme Skin Vitality 1, these have everything you need for a healthy conception.
During your pregnancy you can take Viridian’s excellent Pregnancy Omega Oil and Pregnancy Complex vitamins, also carry on taking them post pregnancy while you are breast feeding.
Supplements will ensure you are getting everything you need as your diet may not be perfect during pregnancy!
For a treat, get yourself a lovely pedicure for pretty feet! or if your skin is going crazy book in for a Pre & Post Natal Skin Health Treatment, to tackle some of your skin issues and release some of the tension in your face and neck, also a real treat would be to get a professional pregnancy massage or reflexology – bliss!