13:05 03 June 2009
Pregnant women are supposed to be radiant. You're meant to glow with happiness at the new life inside you " or that's what Hollywood would have us believe. But it's not all sexy curves and designer bumps. This article also appears on www.bbc.co.uk/parenting/having_a_baby
During your pregnancy you may experience times when you feel far from glowing and radiant! You will undoubtedly notice a number of changes in the way you look. And whether you like the changes or not, you'll probably see the differences in your skin and hair texture. Your care routine may need to change as a result.
Your skin is affected from about 20 weeks onwards. The darker your skin, the more you'll notice it. If you are very fair skinned or have red hair, you may not notice anything. Pigmentation changes may mean:
Moisturising bath and shower products will help if your skin is dry and itchy. If you are very unlucky, you may have very itchy skin all the time, mainly on your torso. In very rare cases, this can be a sign of an underlying condition called cholestasis which affects the liver and kidneys. It can be harmful to your baby, so do tell your medical advisers if you're itching badly.
If you're going to get them, they're more likely to appear on your tummy, breasts and thighs. This happens from about six months on. They're the outward sign of broken elastic fibres in the skin. They look red at first, and then fade to silver-grey. There's no evidence that anything you do can prevent them, though you can buy creams and gels which claim to reduce the effect. But they can't really do that much, as the breaking of the fibres happens some way below the skin's surface. The tendency to stretch marks seems to run in families, so if your mum got them, you're more likely to!
Hair can look shiny and thick in pregnancy. This is probably because the normal daily loss of hair slows down at this time... you may find after the birth you feel as if your hair is falling out more quickly. It's probably the contrast you're noticing, rather than anything more serious - though speak to your doctor if you are worried. It's fine to use hair colourants and perm lotions on your hair, though you may find the results are not predictable. It could be because hair can be more porous in pregnancy, which affects the way you react to the product.
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