The journey of bringing a little one into the world is a wondrous one. The love for your baby really is like no other, it fills the places in your heart that you never knew was there. To cherish every moment of that period you should know about the changes that your body would go through during these nine months both physically and mentally. Your life during and after the pregnancy will never be the same but by making small changes in our daily routine we can enjoy this roller coaster ride. So to begin with great adventure first lets understand what does pregnancy really means.
Pregnancy occurs when a sperm fertilizes an egg released from the ovary and gets implanted into the uterus. Along with this starts the series of physiological and endocranological changes which the body undergoes to give birth to a new life. These changes have both positive and negative impact on the body and mind due to various changes in the hormones.While many of them are undesirable, some turn up to be a pleasant surprise.
Positive changes during pregnancy
Few bodily changes that occur during pregnancy catch you by surprise though these changes varies from person to person. Lets discuss them one by one
Skin may glow and appear healthier and gives rosy appearance to the face. Face looks more fuller and bright as newer cells come to the surface replacing the dry, older cells. All this happens because the blood volume is markedly raised during pregnancy, both the RBC mass and plasma volume get increased which gives a new blush to the face. Hence resulting in a more vibrant, gorgeous and radiant look to the would be mother.
Lips look fuller and redder due to increase in blood volume
Thicker and shinier hair
Progesterone levels increases during pregnancy which leads to increase in sebaceous gland leading to oily scalp, which makes the hair look more thicker and shiner. During pregnancy the hair follicles stay in anagen or active stage of hair cycle for longer period resulting into longer, fuller head and less shedding of hair. More voluminous hair makes you feel splendid and beautiful.
Longer and stronger nails
Increased levels of oestrogen and increase blood flow makes nails more stronger and longer.
Change in Breast Size
Breast size increases during or after pregnancy because the dormant fat tissue in the breast gets replaced by functional ones under the effect of increased levels of estrogen, prolactin and HCG. One more fact associated with pregnancy is that breastfeeding leads to significant decrease in the chances of breast cancer and ovarian cancer in the women.
According to certain theory the changes the breast tissue gone during pregnancy protects it from the breast cancer in near future. During pregnancy less or no ovulation takes places so less chances of having breast or ovarian cancer.
State of slight immunosuppression
Pregnancy induces the state of slight immunosuppression that’s why all immune related diseases like SLE(lupus), RA(rheumatoid arthritis), and skin conditions tends to be less active during pregnancy
Negative changes during pregnancy
During pregnancy skin is more prone to complicated problems due to effect of various hormones on the skin but you dont need to worry as we will discuss all of them one by one in detail.
Melasma : The most prominent problem is the hyper pigmentation or melasma or pregnancy mask. It is the pigmentation around the cheek, forehead, and around the eyes due to excessive formation of melanin. It might disappear after pregnancy but in some cases it may lasts forever. Those having freckles, blemishes or moles their problem tends to get aggravated.
Linea nigra: It is the brownish black dark line stretching from the navel to pubic bone. This line becomes more prominent during pregnancy. These changes are probably due to melanocyte stimulating hormone and changes in oestrogen and progesterone hormones.
Striae gravidarum\strech marks: Almost 90% of women will experience these stretch marks. These are the slightly depressed linear marks with varying lengths and breath predominantly in the abdominal wall, over the thighs and breasts. The main reason behind this is the mechanical stretching of the skin, increase in aldosterone production, weight gain and retention of water. The abrupt changes in weight due to any of the given reasons causes the collagen and elastin which support our skin to rupture and when they heals back the stretch marks appear. Initially they are pinkish but they become glistening white in appearance later on.
Hirsutism: Mild degree of hirsutism is observed during pregnancy due to increase in the androgen levels from the placenta and ovaries.
Spider veins / varicose veins: They usually appear on the legs, ankles and face. They do not cause any big issue but needs precaution and proper knowledge about them. These veins become prominent during pregnancy as there is increase in the blood circulation and blood volume to meet the increase demands of the growing baby. Genetic and hereditary factor is also seen in these cases so if it is more prominent in mothers then the chances of kids having these will be more. But the good thing about them is that they have the temporary effect and disappears 3-4 months after giving birth to the baby. Sometimes after long standing hours of working these veins lead to heaviness in the legs and itchiness.
Gain of 8-11 kg weight is normal during pregnancy due to the retention of electrolytes, increased fat depots and increase in both the number and hypertrophy of the adipose tissues. So we can say pregnancy is a state of hypervolemia. Adverse effect of this rapid weight gain is stretch marks on the body, heaviness in the legs and odema on the feet and ankles.
Incontinence of urine
During early and late pregnancy there is increase in the frequency of micturation due to resetting of osmoregulation and pressure on the bladder during the presenting part of the baby. Stress incontinence is also observed in late pregnancy due to urethral sphincter weakness.
Muscle tone and the motility of the entire GI tract is diminished due to high progesterone levels and atonicity of gut which leads to constipation. Further cardiac sphincter gets relaxed leading to the regurgitation of gastric contents and ultimately heart burn and acidity.
Gums become congested and spongy and may bleed on touch. Acid reflux from the stomach leads to tooth erosion and change in the normal flora of the mouth.
Some observed psychological changes during pregnancy are mental irritability, sleep disorders, post partum blues, depression, psychosis.
Daily skin care routine During Pregnancy
Diligent skin care routine is a must to get supple and glowing skin everyday. Keeping in the mind the changes occurring during the pregnancy in a women’s body and skin we have come up with the following steps that should be followed to get the best results.
Regular cleansing of skin with mild soap, avoid harsh soaps as it leads to dryness of skin and ultimately itchy and chapped skin. A good cleanser helps to get rid of dirt, oil and sweat. Stay away from the harmful chemicals and prefer home made or herbal based cleanser. One example of home made mild facewash could be mixture of raw milk , rose water and glycerin.
Remove the make up before sleep with coconut oil and use only chemical free makeup products as with chemical agents skin is more prone to the allergic reactions.
Dry and chapped skin is most prominent in pregnancy, which is the main cause of itching. To get rid of these use natural products such as aloe vera gel, coconut oil, milk creme or wheat germ oil. All these helps in keeping the skin soft , supple and nourished. In case of any skin allergy use of calamine lotion and cucumber slices is suggested.
Exfoliation is must to remove the dead skin twice a week but it is very important to use a gentle one such as glycolic acid . To prepare a home based exfoliator grind one tablespoon of sugar , then mix it in coconut or olive oil and then scrub your face with this. Sugar is a great natural exfoliant and this gentle scrub can be used on all skin types. The scrub has a great shelf life and can be stored easily in a container and can be kept in the bathroom for frequent use.
Protection from the UV rays in the sunlight is must as it is the main cause behind hyperpigmentation. so use sun block with SPF -50 everyday but remember that sunscreen may trigger or worsen the melasma , so it is very very important to use the mineral sunscreen which contain physical blockers like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide rather than a chemical one. Best way to protect yourself from the sun is to wear the scarf and hat to protect the skin from sunburn and tanning.
Refresh your skin by using vitamin -c serum and hyaluronic acid serum as they dont have any side effects both on mother and baby. We can use orange juice as natural refreshing agent. Rose water gives the very soothing and calm feeling so you may carry the rosewater spray along with you. Or you can fill the spray bottle with alcohol and water in 1:6 ratio plus few drops of bio oil and spray on face.
Stress of pregnancy and the hormonal changes during pregnancy further add to the woes of pregnant ladies. To nourish the skin we can use
Mud mask: Mud has a very soothing and refreshing effect. You may use either multani mitti (Fuller’s earth) or kaolin clay pack with rose water. Keep it on for 15-20 minutes and wash it off with cool water.
Mix 1/2 cup of oatmeal with milk and tablespoon of honey. Keep it for 10 minutes and then wash. Then massage with vitamin E oil on your face.
To avoid dark circles and eye pouches massage with sweet almond oil or olive oil. You can also keep cucumber slices on the eye balls as it will help in relaxing and relieving stress from the eyes. A home made pack prepared from mixing one tablespoon curd, 1 teaspoon tomato juice, few drops of honey, 1/2 teaspoon of almond oil and 2 teaspoons of cornflour can be applied on the dark circles atleast twice in a week to get better results .Tea bags dipped in cold water can also be used for eye pouches.
Exercise and yoga
Physical activity and mild exercises help to release endorphins which are the feel good hormones , which improves energy levels, elevates mood and promotes muscle tone. It decreases discomforts like backache and prevent gestational diabetes besides relieving stress and increasing endurance. Breathing exercises and yoga strengthens muscles and stimulates blood circulation and thus increasing the oxygen carrying capacity.
Drink plenty of water approximate about 2 litres daily as it helps in flushing out the toxins and waste from the body and in maintaing the amniotic fluid levels, extra blood volume, building of the new cells both for mother and baby. Proper hydration also helps in relieving constipation. Avoid caffeine, sugary and aerated drinks like coca cola, limca instead infuse your diet with fresh and healthy alternatives such as coconut water, lemon juice, fresh fruit juices, butter milk, jaljeera or kanji.
Sound sleep of 7-8 hours is must during pregnancy as it relaxes and helps in repairing the body. Its better to sleep in left lateral position because it increases the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and baby. sleep also keeps our immune system healthy. To avoid heavy legs place two pillows beneath your legs during sleep to increase the blood circulation.
Eating a healthy diet is must both for mother and baby’s growth and development because only a healthy mother can give birth to a healthy child. So mother -to-be diet should include variety of food items from different food groups. A pregnant women requires more of folic acid , iron, calcium and proteins for the baby’s growth. To compensate all these she should take more of the green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli, whole grains, lentils and legumes , sweet potatoes, milk, yogurt, cheese, meat, poultry, eggs , fruits rich in vitamin c like gooseberry (amla) or guava, citrus fruits like orange, kiwi, papaya, pomegranate, soya milk, tofu, sprouts and germinated grams ,nuts and seeds.
Wear light and loose clothes which neither hinders your physical activity nor blood circulation.
You must stay away from certain chemicals during pregnancy. Here we have jauted down a list of things and chemicals to avoid during and after pregnancy
- Don’t bleach or use chemical dyes and perming of hair to be avoided.
- Don’t use antihyperpigmented cremes which contain retinoids , retinol-A as they can cause serious birth defects.
- Anti-acne prescriptions which contain benzoyl peroxide , salicylic acid should not be used.
- Skin lightening agents like hydroquinone should not be used.
- Chemical sun screen agents must be avoided.
- Smoking and drinking is a big no no.
- Try to avoid caffeine and sugary drinks as much as possible.
- Big no to laser, electrolysis, bleaching, removal of skin tags , botox and filler sitting like procedure.
- Avoid all chemical based beauty products and let the skin breathe.
- Do not go for varicose vein treatment instead wear compression stockings.
Important Tips for firming loose skin after pregnancy
- Light to moderate yoga should be added in the daily routine as it helps to relax and deal with the post pregnancy stress.
- In diet more proteins and dairy products should be added to build muscles and for proper feeding of baby.
- Strength training exercise must be done to shape the body and tone the loose muscles.
- Drink plenty of water for the faster burning of fat and to maintain the proper metabolism.
- Massage plays a keen role in tonning of the loose muscles. It also helps in lightening the stretch marks and firming the skin.
- Consume vitamin c rich foods for proper formation of collagen and elastin to help firm the skin and for the regeneration of new cells. It also helps in eliminating the stretch marks.
With this, I would like to conclude my article and hope this will help you go through your most precious days of life to become beautiful effortlessly. Wishing this would help you to play both the roles of being a mother and being a lady wonderfully. It will help you to gain confidence in yourself and maintaining your self-esteem during this turmoil tenure of 9 months. I hope all these tips will play a crucial role in your amazing journey of being a mother.