You may also develop stretch marks on your body, particularly around your stomach where your skin is stretching to accommodate your growing baby.
Some pregnant women develop dark irregular patches on their face most commonly on the upper cheek, nose, lips, and forehead. This is called ‘chloasma’. It is also sometimes known as ‘melisma’ or the ‘mask of pregnancy’.
Women with a light brown skin type who are living in regions with intense sun exposure are more likely to develop these patches. The patches usually fade over a period of several months after giving birth, though they may last for several years for some women.
Hormonal changes taking place in pregnancy will make your nipples and the area around them go darker. Your skin colour may also darken a little, either in patches or all over. Birthmarks, moles and freckles may also darken. Some women develop a dark line down the middle of their stomach, called ‘linea nigra’. These changes will gradually fade after the baby is born, although your nipples may remain a little darker.
If you sunbathe while you are pregnant, you may burn more easily. Protect your skin with a good high-factor sunscreen and don’t stay in the sun for a long time.
Hair growth can also increase in pregnancy, and your hair may be greasier. After the baby is born, it may seem as if you are losing a lot of hair but you are simply losing the extra hair.
Stretch marks are narrow pink or purplish streak-like lines that can develop on the surface of the skin. They’re also known as ‘stria’ or ‘striae’. If you get them, they usually appear on your tummy or sometimes on your upper thighs or breasts as your pregnancy progresses. The first sign you notice might be itchiness around an area where the skin is becoming thin and pink.
Stretch marks are very common in the general population; they don’t just affect pregnant women. They can happen whenever the skin is stretched, for example when we’re growing during puberty, or when putting on or losing weight. However, hormonal changes in pregnancy can affect your skin and make you more likely to get stretch marks.
You are more likely to get stretch marks if your weight gain is more than average in pregnancy. Most women gain between 11kg and 16kg in pregnancy, although weight gain varies a great deal from woman to woman. If you are worried about your weight, talk to your midwife or doctor.
Stretch marks are not harmful. They don’t cause medical problems, and there’s usually no need to see your doctor because there isn’t a specific treatment for them. Over time, your skin will shrink and the stretch marks will fade into white-coloured scars.
Some creams claim to remove stretch marks once they’ve appeared, but there is no reliable evidence that they work. There is also limited evidence on whether oils or creams help to prevent stretch marks from appearing in the first place.
Contributed By: Chisom Nwobodo