I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, pregnancy is one major shit show from start to finish. Apart from the emotional changes you’ll go through, the physical changes are immense. One of the biggest changes you’ll notice will be in terms of your skin.
Yes thanks to those pesky hormones you’ll see anything from greasy skin, to super dry patches, to a new level of sensitivity and even the dreaded PUPP rash… having gone through that myself for the last month I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
Pregnancy Glow? Yeah Right!
So let’s start at the top. We’ve all heard of the famed ‘pregnancy glow’ right? Well it turns out that is not the case for us all. In fact, for me, if by glow the term means oily skin, acne and sweating like some kind of farm animal, then yes I had a glow. The truth is, you’re as likely to see your skin get dry as you are for it to be oily. It really depends on the woman. And most of these changes will disappear after you give birth, which begs the question why on earth would Mother Nature just make our skin go bonkers for those nine uncomfortable months?
You may also see brown spots appear on your face, which is called Melasma or ‘the mask of pregnancy,’… some of the names they have for these things are just bizarre! For example the PUPP rash I mentioned earlier stands for Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy!
Anyway Melasma is due to an increase of melanin in your skin and can result in these brown patches… also you’ll likely see yourself take a greater tan if you’re out in the sun, so make sure to watch your skin. It’s all perfectly normal, if totally pointless, so don’t panic and these patches should fade after delivery.
You might also notice what’s called Linea Nigra or ‘black line’ in Latin, on the tummy. Again this is completely harmless and serves no actual purpose other than to annoy us and is to do with the increase in melanin during pregnancy again should fade in the weeks after birth…
Oh and the PUPP rash I mentioned before, this is a really unpleasant one. I developed an itchy rash on my stretch marks toward the final month or so of my pregnancy, which then spread to my arms and legs. As if being the size of a blue whale wasn’t bad enough, I had to feel as though I wanted to tear my own skin off thanks to the itch and did I mention there is nothing you can do about it? Yeah fun times all round. It SHOULD disappear after you give birth, but in my case it took about a month and 3 prescriptions to do so.
Finally we get to the biggie. Stretch marks. These, in case you didn’t know, are red, purple marks that tend to appear on your tummy. And by the by, when I say tummy, I mean below the belly button. I can remember being midway through my pregnancy and was feeling pretty smug as I looked in the mirror and said to myself;
Wow, these stretch mark creams and oils I’m using are doing a superb job! Not one stretch mark!’
Then I lifted up the underside of my belly that hadn’t seen the light of day in months…
Oh shit! I shrieked.
I was covered in stretch marks! I had always reckoned that stretch marks would be on what I considered my tummy, not on the skin lower down under my belly button and on my hips.
Anyway, these ‘tiger stripes’ are likely to be in your genes. Honest to God, ask you mammy if she suffered with them, if she did then it’s highly likely you will too. They should fade after you give birth to a more silvery colour.
Nothing is going to completely prevent you getting stretch marks, but it is good to use a cream or oil during pregnancy and afterward to keep the skin supple and moisturised, so that as it stretches and later contracts you minimise the damage to your skin.
Here’s 5 To Try -
Mama Mio - Tummy Rub Butter
This is a bit of a luxury and let’s face it, you could do with a bit of pampering right? The Mama Mio range is all pregnancy and breastfeeding safe and has no chemical nasties. This cream smells DIVINE! It’s thick, rich and packed with skin-drenching nutrients – omega 3, 6 and 9, Shea Butter, Borage Oil, Sweet Almond Oil and Wheatgerm Oil. These omega-rich ingredients help prevent stretch marks by increasing skin elasticity.
€27.99 for 270g. Various stockists online - cloud10beauty, beautyfeatures, millies, etc.
This is a cult classic and is probably one of the best know products for stretch marks and scars in general, so it's handy for use beyond pregnancy. It is proven to help reduce the redness over time. It smells divine and is packed with good skin oils. The only drawback is it’s quite runny and for say first thing in the morning it can spill or transfer onto clothes and takes a little longer to dry.
€20.99 for 125mls widely available from pharmacies and supermarkets.
Mustela Stretch Mark Prevention Oil
This is a new one on me and is a similar product to Bio Oil but what I really like about it, is that it has a spray applicator and is a drier oil in texture so it’s much easier to use. Packed with lupine seeds extract, oils of pomegranate, avocado, musk rose and baobab this is well worth checking out. There’s also a cream if you don’t like the feeling of an oil on your skin.
€21.00 105mls. Available from pharmacies nationwide.
Bepanthen Stretch Mark Cream
If this brand sounds familiar, it’s because they also do nappy rash cream and baby moisturiser! For that reason it might not seem like it’s going to be much of a treat for you, but it’s packed with Provitamin B5 and pure olive oil. What’s really nifty is that there is a bag-in-bottle which ensures you get to use every last drop.
€19.99 150mls. Available from pharmacies nationwide
Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Lotion For Stretch Marks
Sometimes the old classics are the best and this little old school cream is a case in point. It’s been around for donkeys years, is very inexpensive, award winning, has a lovely smell and a handy cream pump dispenser. I found it a little greasy for daily use, but that said it’s a great price point and very moisturising with Cocoa and Shea Butters and Vitamin E.
Only €6.49 widely available from pharmacies nationwide.