Body care during pregnancy
Pregnancy hormones can affect almost every part of your body, including your breasts, skin, hair, teeth, and gums. To keep your body in good shape, you'll probably need to make some changes in your daily routine. Your growing abdomen may affect your posture, too, so check the way you stand and move (see Check your posture).
Skin during pregnancy
Your skin will probably “bloom” during pregnancy. All the extra hormones encourage the skin to hold moisture that plumps it out, making it more supple, less oily, and less prone to spots. The extra blood circulating round your body also makes your skin glow. But there can be problems, too. Red patches may get bigger, acne may worsen, areas may become dry and scaly, and you may notice deeper pigmentation across your face.
Here are a few general tips for looking after your skin during pregnancy. Soap removes natural oils from the skin, so use it as little as possible. Try using baby lotion, or glycerine-based soap and body wash. Always add some oils to your bath to lessen the dehydrating effects of hard water, and don't lie in the bath for too long as this dehydrates the skin. Make-up can help cheer you up and it helps moisturize the skin as it prevents water loss.
This happens to nearly every woman, especially on areas of the body that have pigmentation already, such as freckles, moles, and the areolae of the breasts. Your genitals, the skin on the inside of your thighs, underneath your eyes, and in your armpits may become darker too. A dark line, called the linea nigra, often appears down the centre of your stomach. It marks the division of your abdominal muscles, which separate slightly to make room for your expanding uterus. Even after you've had your baby, the linea nigra and the areolae usually remain darker for a while, but will gradually fade. Sunlight intensifies the colour of areas of skin that are already pigmented, and many women find that they tan more easily when they're pregnant. Since ultraviolet A (UVA) rays can lead to skin cancer, and the effect they have on the unborn baby is unknown, it's important to avoid sunburn. If you're out in the sun use a sun block. Keep your skin covered up in hot sun, and don't use sunbeds. Don't use fake tan products during pregnancy as these can cause skin allergies.
Some women develop brown patches on the nose, cheeks, and neck during pregnancy. This is called chloasma, or the mask of pregnancy, and is a special form of pigmentation. You can make it less noticeable by using concealer or the cover-up cosmetics used for birthmarks. Don't try to bleach the marks - they'll fade after the birth.
Your blood vessels are very sensitive when you're pregnant and you may find tiny broken blood vessels called spider veins on your face. Don't worry - they'll fade soon after delivery and will probably have disappeared by three months after the birth.
If you've always been prone to coming out in spots before your period you may get them when you're pregnant, particularly in the first few months. Keep your skin really clean and use a cleanser two or three times a day. Never squeeze spots as this only spreads the infection into deeper layers of skin.
Most women get some stretch marks during pregnancy. These are usually on the tummy, but may also appear on the thighs, hips, breasts, and upper arms. They're caused by the breakdown of protein in the skin by the high levels of pregnancy hormones and there's not much you can do about them. Whatever you rub into your skin or eat doesn't really make much difference, although putting on weight gradually should help. Don't worry - they'll fade soon after delivery and will probably have disappeared by three months after the birth.
Teeth during pregnancy
When you're pregnant your gums tend to become soft and spongy so more likely to bleed and become infected. This is because of the extra blood in your body and the high levels of hormones. Be very careful about cleaning and flossing your teeth, and make sure you eat a good diet with plenty of calcium-rich foods to help keep your teeth healthy. Avoid sweets and sugar.
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